Working With Law Makers on Guns and Mental Health Law

KXLY has reported accurately on my efforts, working with state law makers, to reduce gun crime committed by the mentally ill.

Last session I wrote to state law makers that I was looking to reduce “criminal misuse of firearms” and can do so by a “simple amendment” to the law that restores firearm rights to those involuntarily committed for mental health treatment.

Under the current law, people involuntarily committed can have their firearm rights restored without sufficiently ensuring that their mental health is fully restored.

In my letter I explained that "under the current law the trial court must restore firearm rights even if the trial court feels that there is a 49.9 percent likelihood that the person who was once involuntarily committed has not successfully managed the condition related to the commitment, is likely to have a recurrence of the condition, and still presents a substantial danger to the public.”

To fix this problem, I propose a minimum mandatory waiting period of 12 months after being released from an involuntary commitment. I also propose a higher standard for restoration of rights. The person must prove a “higher degree of certainty that the person no longer represents a danger to the public before firearm rights are restored.”

The mental health issue in this county is big and it is real, but this particular improvement in the law is small, cheap and easy. There really is no reason not to pass this amendment.

This legislation will reduce the criminal misuse of firearms by putting the focus of our laws where it belongs, and that is on keeping firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.