A bipartisan gun bill has made its way to the governor’s desk. If signed into law, it will prevent tens of thousands of Floridians from buying firearms, but mental health workers worry the bill will backfire.
”I would think it would be very difficult for the governor not to sign a bill that keeps guns out of the hands of dangerous people with mental illnesses,” said Marion Hammer, of the Nation Rifle Association.
The legislation requires people who volunteer for mental health treatment to give up their gun rights. Mental health professionals want Gov. Rick Scott to veto the legislation.
“We believe in a sense the federal standard is the sound standard, and that is, there needs to be an adjudication,” said John Bryant, of Florida Council for Community Mental Health.
Supporters said the bill will only cover people who would otherwise be committed under the Baker Act. Commitment requires a diagnosis of mental illness and is considered harmful to themselves or others.
Opponents worry the new bill creates unreasonable time frames for doctors to make life altering diagnosis.
Mental Health professionals worry if the governor signs the bill into law, fewer people will seek mental healthcare treatment.
“I think the people who have to implement this bill will find out it’s a lot more complicated and difficult to implement than anyone envisioned,” said Bryant.
Hammer said after a person with mental illness is treated, they’ll be able to petition the court to get their gun rights back.
“They will not be able to purchase a gun until they have been treated, and a psychiatrist says they need relief from disability,” said Hammer.
Scott has two weeks to decide if he will sign the legislation.
Medical officials say if the governor signs the bill into law, there may be more than 100,000 additional people denied the right to buy a gun. There are already 90,000 Floridians denied that right.