KOVR: California Lawmaker Wants Lifetime Gun Ban For People With Mental Illness

Friday, February 16, 2018

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — Newtown, San Bernardino, Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs and now Parkland.

Five of the six deadliest mass shootings of the past six years in the United States were all carried out by a gunman wielding an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

Now California is stepping in with revived gun legislation targeting people with mental health illnesses.

Assemblyman Evan Low has sponsored a bill that says a person with a documented mental illness will be banned from owning a firearm for life.

“We know, yes, this might be an inconvenience, but it’s for the general welfare of the public,” he said.

Low’s bill would permanently remove any guns from someone who’s confined to a mental facility twice in one year.

Currently, a state program run by the Department of Justice tracks gun owners and allows law enforcement to take away guns from people with mental illnesses.

But could either the current or proposed California laws, if in place, have prevented the Florida shooting?

Probably not.

The suspected shooter, Nikolas Cruz, legally purchased the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle authorities say he used to kill 17 students.

According to law enforcement, Cruz had a disciplinary record at school, but no criminal or mental health record.

“Criminals and insane people will always be able to get guns,” said Sam Paredes, executive director of the Gun Owners of California.

Paredes says a smarter plan would be to ask police officers to check on people who raise red flags at home or at work.

“None of these things that are being proposed require somebody to go in and physically evaluate if someone has a problem,” he said.

There’s no state law on the books for that.

But there is one that gives police and relatives the right to petition a court to temporarily remove guns from a disturbed person.

“We cannot just simply stay status quo,” said Low.

If passed, Low’s bill would not allow the petitioners to return the guns, and many gun owners think that goes too far.

“Many people recover from those types of things,” said Paredes.

“We are focused on pieces of legislation to address this issue at hand, and we must continue to build on these issues,” said Low.

His bill heads its first public safety committee this spring.

It’s one of several new gun measures making its way through the legislature, this year.