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Perlmutter bill to restrict gun purchases for those with mental illnesses
Colorado Congressman Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) announced Thursday he will co-sponsor a bill to prohibit gun purchases for people with mental illness who have been involuntarily committed on an outpatient basis.
The Safer Communities Act of 2017 expands federal law, which currently applies only to those committed to inpatient facilities.
The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA). Both representatives serve on the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force; Thompson as chair, Perlmutter as vice-chair.
According to a statement issued Thursday, the legislation would allow the FBI to expand its current alert system so that state and local law enforcement “can pursue cases where prohibited persons try to purchase guns – particularly those prohibited due to serious mental illness.”
The bill would also “improve the submission of mental health records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the database used to determine whether or not a prospective buyer is eligible to buy a firearm,” the statement said. It also provides resources for a variety of mental health programs, such as crisis intervention services and research on gun violence.
Federal firearms laws currently prohibit anyone “adjudicated as mental defective” or “committed to a mental institution” from purchasing or otherwise possessing a firearm. The legislation would update that language, which Perlmutter called “outdated and stigmatizing” to “ineligible due to disqualifying mental status.”
“After nearly every gun violence tragedy, we’ve heard many say that guns are not the problem, mental health is. The Safer Communities Act we’ve introduced today would address that problem and keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill,” Thompson said in the statement.
Perlmutter added that the measure “is a common sense proposal to reduce the likelihood of individuals suffering from mental illness from accessing firearms … We’ve seen far too many tragedies in our communities and we must take steps to prevent future tragedies by making gun violence less easy, less frequent and less deadly.”Content originally published by Colorado Politics on October 27, 2017.