Calif. Mayors Press Brown To Sign Bill To Restrict Guns for Mentally Ill
On Wednesday, a group of California mayors sent a letter to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) urging him to sign 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 Los Angeles Times' "PolitiCal" reports (McGreevy, "PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 9/3).
If signed, the bill would take effect on Jan. 1, 2016 (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/3).
The measure was introduced after a half dozen people were killed in Isla Vista, Calif., by an individual with suspected mental health issues. Elliot Rodger had legally purchased three semi-automatic guns and ammunition used in the attack.
The incident occurred after the Rodger's family had contacted the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department with concerns about his mental health. Police conducted a welfare visit and concluded that Rodger did not pose a risk.
Details of Bill
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. 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;
- 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 (California Healthline, 8/28).
Mayors Call for Approval of AB 1014
In the letter to Brown, the California coalition of Mayors Against Illegal Guns -- which includes 69 mayors across the state -- wrote, "Gun violence restraining orders would create an opportunity to stop gun violence in real life-or-death situations while still protecting the Second Amendment rights of lawful gun owners" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 9/3).
The mayors noted, "The standards for issuing a [restraining order] in AB 1014 are appropriately rigorous to ensure that gun rights are not violated" (Mayors Against Illegal Guns letter, 9/3).
Opponents Say Measure Could Harm Gun Owners
Meanwhile, Gun Owners of California Executive Director Sam Paredes voiced concerns about the measure being used in an unintended manner. He said the restraining orders could end up being used as a legal "weapon or tool by those who want to cause harm ... or discomfort" to individuals who own guns ("KPCC News," KPCC, 9/3).
Eric Wooten, president of the Liberal Gun Owners Association, said the measure also could be an "enormous disincentive" for gun owners to seek mental health and substance misuse treatment.
Wooten said, "This unconstitutional, unaffordable, unproven and unworkable bill could cause the very tragedies it is meant to prevent," adding, "Thirty years of a failed war on drugs should have taught us that instead of punishing people for their human frailties, we have a duty to help them" ("PolitiCal," Los Angeles Times, 9/3).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.