Sen. Catherine Blakespear, D-Encinitas, and San Diego County Sheriff Kelly Martinez announced a bill Friday intended to keep guns out of the hands of people experiencing mental health crises.
Senate Bill 1002 would provide a deadline of 72 hours after discharge from a mental health care facility for patients to turn over their firearms, closing what Blakespear called a “gap” in the existing law which makes it difficult for law enforcement to ensure those newly prohibited from owning firearms turn them in.
“In California, we have strong gun safety laws, but our laws are only as effective as their implementation,” Blakespear said. “SB 1002 takes the next step forward in protecting Californians from gun violence by adding measures to ensure that people who are placed on mental health holds turn in their firearms as required.”
According to data from the California Department of Justice, more than 4,800 people statewide who are legally required to surrender their firearms due to mental health-related issues have not done so.
The bill has limited bipartisan support, with co-author Assemblywoman Laurie Davies, R-Laguna Niguel, turning out on Friday to support its passage.
SB 1002 is also intended to require the California Department of Justice to inform people undergoing a mental health crisis of the firearm prohibition, increase coordination between the DOJ and local law enforcement and direct health care facilities and courts to inform individuals how to relinquish their weapons according to local procedures and the law.
The San Diego County Sheriff’s — from 2017 to 2023 — reviewed, on average, 8,750 mental health hold cases each year, ensuring they followed up when a person had a firearm. In most cases, the individual voluntarily complies, officials said.
“SB 1002 enhances law enforcement’s ability to utilize education and outreach efforts to provide clarity in a process that can be overwhelming, especially when an individual is returning from a critical mental health state,” Martinez said. “Any opportunity for us to bridge service delivery gaps, with a compassionate approach, is a step in the right direction.”
Under state code 5150, people who are experiencing mental health crises and are essentially unable to take care of themselves or are considered a danger to themselves or others can be involuntarily held at a health care institution for 72 hours.
“I am pleased to support this partnership between the Legislature, law enforcement and our prosecutors, because the issue of gun violence is too large for any of us to solve in isolation,” said San Diego City Attorney Mara Elliott. “We have learned through too many preventable gun deaths that strong laws are only as good as the structures in place to enforce them.
“That is why I am proud to co-sponsor SB 1002, which is laser-focused on creating a strong infrastructure to keep deadly weapons out of the hands of those who have already been determined to pose a threat to themselves or others,” she said.
–City News Service