Governor Scott is under pressure from NationalGunRights.org (NGR) members to not sign into law CS/CS/HB 1355: Purchase of Firearms by Mentally Ill Persons.
CS/CS/HB 1355 states:
Purchase of Firearms by Mentally Ill Persons; Provides conditions under which person who has been voluntarily admitted to mental institution for treatment & has undergone involuntary examination under Baker Act may be prohibited from purchasing firearm; provides requirements for examining physician; provides for judicial review of certain findings; provides specified notice requirements; provides form & contents of notice; provides requirements with respect to filing of specified records with court & presentation of such records to judge or magistrate; provides lawful authority of judge or magistrate to review specified records & order that such records be submitted to FDLE; provides a timeframe for submission of records to FDLE upon order of record by judge or magistrate.
In an email to supporters Dudley Brown, Executive Vice-President of NGR states, “If a gun owner is voluntarily committed for a mental health issue and the doctor feels they might be a danger to themselves or others, they will forfeit their gun rights. This is even if the physician recommends outpatient treatment for the condition.”
“The doctor would then give the law-abiding gun owner a written notice saying they will be losing their gun rights, whether they AGREE to treatment or not! The requirement for ‘involuntary commitment,’ as is currently in Florida law, would be thrown out the window along with the requirement for due process in a court before taking your gun rights away,” notes Brown.
Following the shooting at the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Conn., Sunrise Mayor Mike Ryan has become one of the leading advocates in Broward County for changing laws to improve school safety. Ryan, a member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, called for several measures, including the need to address mental health and guns, in the political blog BrowardBeat.com.
“It [CS/CS/HB 1355] is singling out people who have mental illness and are seeking out treatment voluntarily,” exclaimed Pam Gionfriddo the CEO of the Mental Health Association of Palm Beach County, “My fear is that people who need help aren’t going to seek it out, cause nobody wants to be on a database.”
NBC News Channel 5 reports, “Gionfriddo believes measures like HB 1355 could take away rights from people. She wants more effort and funding for mental health care. Funding for mental health programs has been decreasing in recent years, she said. ‘My fear is that people who need help aren’t going to seek it out, cause nobody wants to be on a database’.”
Mike Ryan from the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald wrote, “We should point out that the simple act of being held under the Baker Act doesn’t mean the person is mentally ill or in need of commitment. In 2010, less than 1 percent of about 140,000 involuntary examinations led to involuntary placement in a mental health treatment facility, according to the Florida Department of Children and Families. This number doesn’t account for people who voluntarily remained in facilities.”
Ryan states, “We found many law enforcement agencies — including the sheriff’s offices in Broward and Hillsborough and police departments in the cities of Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood and nearby town of Davie — do require a court order.”
“We couldn’t find data regarding how often someone who is Baker Acted has their firearm taken. ‘Most individuals don’t have weapons at the time of the Baker Act,’ said Miami-Dade County Judge Steve Leifman, who chairs judicial committees on mental health,” writes Ryan.
Ryan notes, “Under the Baker Act, people who haven’t committed crimes are not supposed to be treated as criminals and they do retain their constitutional rights — including the right to own a gun.”