Senate Passes Bill That Aims To Help Disarm Mentally Ill Individuals
On Monday, the state Senate voted 37-0 toÂ give final approval toÂ a bill (SB 140) that would increase funding for efforts to disarm individuals who are prohibited from possessing guns because of mental illness or other factors, NBC 7 San Diego reports (Stickney, NBC 7 San Diego, 4/22).
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 in January, 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 the state each year investigates and seizes the guns of about 2,000 individuals listed in the database. However, Lindley said that about 3,000 names are added to the system annually.
He said, "Despite our best efforts, the bureau does not have the funding or resources to keep up with this annual influx."
The bill -- part of a package of gun control proposals introduced after a shooting at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December 2012 -- would allocate $24 million to help disarm individuals listed in the database. The funds would be generated by firearm sales and transfer fees.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) said the funds would allow the state DOJ to hire 36 additional agents, doubling the size of the Armed Prohibited Persons System staff.
Last week, the Assembly voted 57-10 to approve the bill (California Healthline, 4/19).
Next StepsThe bill now will be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown (D). If Brown signs the measure into law, it would take effect immediately (Quinton, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 4/22). 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.