LA Times: Californians with severe mental illness could be banned for life from owning firearms under new proposal

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

A state lawmaker wants to mandate a lifetime ban on possessing firearms by some Californians suffering from severe mental health issues, saying it may help reduce the number of suicides.

A bill by Assemblyman Evan Low (D-Campbell) would apply to some of those judged by the courts to be a risk to themselves and others who are approved for an involuntary 5150 hold for mental health treatment.

Currently, those people have their firearms taken away for five years, but psychiatric facilities often petition afterward for the guns to be returned, Low said.

The assemblyman’s bill would permanently remove the firearms of a person who has been placed on a 5150 hold twice in one year. It would also prohibit psychiatric facilities from filling out petition forms on a former patient’s behalf to have the guns returned.

“People at risk of harming themselves or others should not have easy access to firearms,” Low said in a statement. “Research shows that suicide with a firearm is the most common and by far the most lethal suicide method. Just having a firearm in the home is a strong predictor for gun suicide.”

The legislation is supported by the California District Attorneys Assn., according to Amador County Dist. Atty. Todd Riebe, the group’s president.

“AB 1968 gives prosecutors more time to access and review information that is critical to our ability to thoroughly vet and defend against petitions submitted by individuals who may pose such a risk,” Riebe said.