Senate Passes Legislation To Restrict Guns for Mentally Ill Individuals
On Wednesday, the California Senate passed a bill (AB 1014) that would allow temporary restraining orders to prevent individuals who are suspected of having mental health issues or who are potentially violent from purchasing or possessing guns, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (Lin, AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/27).
The bill now heads to the Assembly for a vote on amendments, including an effort to push back the implementation date to Jan. 1, 2016 (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 8/27).
The measure was introduced after a half dozen people were killed in Isla Vista, Calif., by an individual with suspected mental health issues.
On May 23, 22-year-old Elliot Rodger killed six individuals by stabbing or shooting them and wounded 13 others in Isla Vista, Calif. Rodger had legally purchased three semi-automatic guns and ammunition used in the attack.
The incident occurred after Rodger's family members had contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department on April 30 with concerns about his mental health. Police conducted a welfare visit and concluded that Rodger did not pose a risk.
The bill, by Assembly members Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), would allow family members and friends to contact law enforcement if they believe an individual could be a threat to themselves or others, and officers then could ask a judge for the temporary restraining order.
Under current state law, individuals can be banned from buying firearms only if they are involuntarily committed to a mental health facility (California Healthline, 6/25). Guns can be seized from individuals only if:
- A licensed therapist notifies police that the individual is a risk to their own safety or the safety of others (Richman/Calefati, Contra Costa Times, 8/27);
- They have been convicted of a felony or a violent misdemeanor;
- They are under a domestic violence restraining order; or
- They have been determined to be mentally unstable (AP/Sacramento Bee, 8/27).