New California Law Will Restrict Guns for Mentally Ill Individuals
On Tuesday, Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a bill (AB 1014) that will 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, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.
The new law will take effect on Jan. 1, 2016 (O'Neill, "KPCC News," KPCC, 9/30).
The measure was introduced after a half dozen people were killed in Isla Vista 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 New Law
The law, by Assembly members Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) and state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara), allows 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 (California Healthline, 9/4).
The restraining order initially would be in place for 21 days, but it could be extended up to a year after a hearing takes place (Bernstein, Reuters, 9/30).
Previously, individuals could be banned from buying firearms only if they are involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. Guns could 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, 9/4).
In a statement, Skinner said, "Family member are often the first to spot the warning signs when someone is in crisis," adding, "AB 1014 strengthens our mental health and gun control laws by providing an effective tool which family members and law enforcement can use to help prevent shootings" (Siders/Miller, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 9/30).
Other advocates said the new law could help to reduce suicide rates in the state (Thompson, AP/U-T San Diego, 9/30).
However, Craig DeLuz, director of communications at the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees, said the measure "goes far beyond just gun rights," adding, "It throws the basic concept of innocent until proven guilty on its ear" ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 9/30).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.