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Rep. Thompson Offers Bill to Keep Guns from Criminals, Dangerously Mentally Ill

U.S. Congressman, who chairs House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, introduces bill to develop a system that removes firearms from people who bought them legally, but lost their right to own them.

 

U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, introduced legislation yesterday to help states launch initiatives to remove guns from the hands of convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

Thompson introduce the legislation at a press conference at 12:40 p.m. PST in Washington, D.C.  He was joined at the press conference by California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris and law enforcement officials. 

The conference began just a couple hours before a double police homicide in Santa Cruz shook the beachside community.

Along with co-sponsor task force vice-chair Jackie Speier (CA-14), the two introduced H.R. 848, the Armed Prohibited Persons Act of 2013. It would establish a competitive grant program within the Department of Justice for states that voluntarily develop a system that removes firearms from people who bought them legally, but later lost their right to own those firearms by committing a crime or being deemed dangerously mentally ill.

“The NRA is the first to say that we need to get the guns out of the hands of criminals. This bill does just that. We anxiously await their support,” said Speier.

“No matter which side of this debate you are on, no one wants criminals or people with a history of dangerous mental illness to have guns,” said Thompson.

“This bill does nothing to limit a law abiding citizen’s Second Amendment Rights. It simply gives states an incentive to develop successful programs that will keep guns out of the hands of people we all agree shouldn’t have them."

This legislation is modeled after a 2001 California state law that established the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System (APPS). California Attorney General Kamala D. Harris endorsed the legislation.

"California's armed and prohibited persons program is a proactive, smart, efficient tool that is taking firearms out of the hands of people who are prohibited from possessing them,” said Attorney General Harris.

The state's APPS helps make sure those convicted of certain crimes or deemed to be dangerously mentally ill relinquish or sell any firearms they own.

Since 2007, under California’s APPS, law enforcement has collected more than 10,000 guns from people who after legally purchasing them, became prohibited from owning them. More than 11,000 assault magazines have also been seized.

Last year alone, more than 1,800 firearms where taken out of the hands of convicted criminals and the dangerously mentally ill.

Specifically, the Armed Prohibited Persons Act of 2013 would make grants available to States who:

  • Develop programs with the goal of removing firearms from armed prohibited persons;
  • Provide assurances that an armed prohibited person will have a reasonable opportunity to lawfully dispose of their firearms before the State takes action to retrieve them;
  • Will contribute pertinent information to the National Criminal Instant Background Checks System (NICS); and
  • Can sustain the operation of the proposed program.

H.R. 848 has been referred to the House Committee on the Judiciary.

This material adapted from a press office statement. Congressman Mike Thompson represents California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties.

Unfiltered Steve Simoneau February 28, 2013 at 02:53 AM
Next: A law with very broad descriptions of "dangerously mentally ill". Yelled at a co-worker, made a derogatory sexist remark, made a threatening comment, screamed profanity at an ex, etc.
Navi February 28, 2013 at 10:49 PM
It seems pretty simple. Anyone wanting a gun should go through the same pre-screen requirements of anyone wanting to join our military. If you aren't able to pass a pre-screen to be in the military, chances are you shouldn't have a gun. They ask questions like, "Have you ever used any illegal drugs?" "Do you have any mental illness or have you had one before?" And of course if they have a criminal history, depending on what the charge is, they won't get in. Apply this standard to gun ownership and I think we can all live with this unless a) you have a history with drugs b) you have a history of dangerous mental illness or c) you have been convicted of a violent crime.
wiseone February 28, 2013 at 11:38 PM
Navi, I don't think it's as simple as that. The young man who shot and killed two Santa Cruz detectives had served in the military,despite having had some serious brushes with the law and mental health issues prior to that service. Steve S. You seem rather stuck in your views on this subject. We need to be serious about this subject. The two police officers who were slaughtered in Santa Cruz would probably be alive and well had this legislation already been in effect.
Harold Edwards March 01, 2013 at 07:59 AM
Let's outlaw guns? Too many innocent people are being slaughtered because some clown has the right to buy a weapon designed to kill . Lot of mental illness just don't happen overnight . It takes years,and these people buy these weapons when they are sane, and after years they have all these guns they bought and use them. We live in a time why would you need a gun.what is everybody afraid of ? Laws need to be changed. OUTLAW ALL GUNS!
Lorie March 01, 2013 at 02:28 PM
Steve, The "next" is already here and in place. Try any of your "dangerously mentally ill" examples at any school as a student and most likely you will be expelled and accused of making "terrorist threats" just because the Ed Code's definitions of such are broad enough. I don't want our government to define what is a "dangerously mentally ill" person, because that definition will get broader and broader to include just about anyone with a louder voice or a stronger stomp. Getting angry is not a crime, acting violently is. What I believe is happening now is the redefinition of once very simple terms understood by all. Once upon a time, a "terrorist threat" was simply referred to a threat made by a member of a designated or known terrorist group using a military tactic to achieve their goals, now, just about anyone expressing anger, justified or not, is considered to be making [criminal] terrorist threats. Harold and wiseone, Outlawing guns will not keep the criminal and insane from killing you, it will only keep the law abiding citizens from protecting you!
Ash Leigh March 01, 2013 at 05:17 PM
Harold, Drugs, selling sex are illegal - you can still buy them in the streets. I'm a law-abiding citizen and a gun-owner. If someone crazy want's to kill someone, or destroy something, they could use a bomb, a plane, a car, poison the water, arsenic, fire, want me to continue? Most of these examples you can get a license to drive/fly, purchase at a store, or find a "how-to" on the internet. Should we ban all that too?
SF49ers March 01, 2013 at 08:04 PM
Last month there was a guy in Alaska that killed four people with a compound bow. I don’t hear any outcry to ban bows. And a 223 Remington 5.56MM NATO is designed to wound not kill. If you think any new laws are going to do anything just look at the laws on illegal immigration.
Antonio Gramsci March 02, 2013 at 03:55 AM
It's okay to yell at a co-worker if that co-worker happens to be your superior. A derogatory sexist remark requires a few missing teeth and a threatening comment is okay if it's directed to the right person (i.e. your superior, someone with more power than you). Oh and profanity, what does that mean anyway?
Bob Sutterfield March 02, 2013 at 05:32 PM
I thought the APPS program made sense, and I even supported calls for increased funding to improve its effectiveness. But this LA Times story reveals significant disturbing details: The raiding parties work without indictments, court orders, or search warrants. This is blatant abuse of police powers, exactly what the 4th Amendment guards against. Do we really want this held up as a national model? http://articles.latimes.com/2013/feb/18/local/la-me-gun-recovery-20130219

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