Legislation Package Would Boost Law Denying Guns to Mentally Ill
On Thursday, Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) announced a package of 10 bills that would strengthen gun control regulations, including a law prohibiting individuals with mental illnesses and felons from owning guns, the Ventura County Star reports (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 2/7).
State law enforcement officials have the authority to seize weapons from individuals not permitted by law to own them.
However, at a joint legislative hearing last week, Stephen Lindley -- chief of the state Department of Justice's Bureau of Firearms -- said that staff shortages and funding cuts have led to delays in disarming more than 19,700 Californians who have mental illnesses or have been convicted of felonies.
Lindley said such individuals -- who are recorded in the state's Armed Prohibited Persons database -- now own a total of about 39,000 firearms.
He said that the state each year investigates and seizes the guns of about 2,000 individuals listed in the database. However, Lindley added that each year about 3,000 names are added to the system.
He said, "Despite our best efforts, the bureau does not have the funding or resources to keep up with this annual influx" (California Healthline, 1/30).
Details of Bills Package
Discussing the need to boost efforts to prohibit people with mental illnesses and felons from owning guns, Steinberg said, "We can save lives by getting guns and ammunition out of the hands of the wrong people" (Ventura County Star, 2/7).
The package of bills also includes measures that would:
- Prohibit the manufacture, sale, transfer and importation of rifles with detachable magazines;
- Regulate ammunition purchases (Van Oot, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 2/7); and
- Expand the list of crimes that could prohibit an individual from owning a gun (Richman, Contra Costa Times, 2/7).
Gun Rights Advocates Respond
Sam Paredes -- executive director of Gun Owners of California -- said the proposals would have "zero impact" on gun violence. He said lawmakers should focus more on funding law enforcement and courts ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 2/7).
Yih-Chau Chang -- a spokesperson for gun rights group Responsible Citizens of California -- said, "The violent criminals are simply not going to be affected by any of these proposals," adding that the bills only would affect "law-abiding citizens" (Contra Costa Times, 2/7).
Broadcast CoverageOn Thursday, Capital Public Radio's "KXJZ News" reported on the package of gun control proposals (Adler, "KXJZ News," Capitol Public Radio, 2/7). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.