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Mental Health system and gun control

Recently, much of the conversation about gun control has shifted to limiting access to guns by persons with mental illness. That is appropriate. However, there does not seem to be much awareness of the provisions of current law regarding this or where breakdowns occur. I thought I would share what I know about this.

Current law in California provides that all persons detained for involuntary evaluation and treatment, per Welfare and Institutions Code section 5150, on the basis of danger to self or others, are to be reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and become ineligible to own or possess firearms for a specified period. Such reporting does occur on a regular basis.

However, this information goes no further than the DOJ until a covered person applies for a background check to purchase a firearm. Nothing is done by anyone to determine whether covered persons already possess firearms or to remove them if they do. That lack is attributable to the DOJ and local law enforcement agencies, not to the mental health treatment system.



Robert S. Erickson

Former Nevada County Behavioral Health director


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