Dems targeting mentally ill gun owners
Democrats are renewing efforts to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill after a string of recent mass shootings.
The Safer Communities Act, introduced Thursday by Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), would temporarily prohibit people who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health institution from purchasing or possessing a gun.
The legislation also takes steps to strengthen the nation’s mental health system.
Blumenthal pointed to a “lethal link between mental illness and firearms deaths.”
“By simultaneously improving mental health care and keeping guns out of the hands of those who would use them to harm themselves or others, this legislation takes an holistic approach to this serious issue,” Blumenthal said in a statement.
The gun legislation comes as lawmakers are grappling with how to respond to recent gun violence. The Charleston church shooting last month that left nine people dead has reignited a debate over gun control in this country.
The bill is also backed by Reps. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) and Ed Perlmutter (D-Colo.), who head up the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.
Police could temporarily take away guns from people who were recently released from mental health institutions if there is “probable cause to believe [they] pose an imminent risk of harm to self or others,” the lawmakers wrote.
The mentally ill would also be temporarily prohibited from purchasing new guns after they are released.
They would be eligible to petition to get their guns back one year after they are released.
“It’s important to keep guns away from individuals who pose a threat to themselves or others and instead provide them with the mental health tools and services they need,” Perlmutter said in a statement.
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