The Florida state senate passed HB 1355 unanimously, and the house passed it by a vote of 117 to 1. The NRA even supports it. However, Governor Rick Scott has been receiving thousands of e-mails from gun owners urging him to veto the bill. In fact, his office reported that he’s received about 20,000 messages from gun owners in just the last two weeks.
One of the main components of the bill is the closing of a “loophole” that allowed those who voluntarily committed themselves to a mental health facility to continue to be able to purchase firearms. This bill closes that loophole and makes it so that anyone, regardless of whether they were committed voluntarily or involuntarily to a mental health hospital, will be prohibited from ever purchasing a firearm. However, a person who was committed can appeal to have his gun rights reinstated after treatment, assuming a doctor says it’s OK:
“The measure seeks to prohibit people from purchasing firearms if a doctor said they posed a danger to themselves or others. If the patient didn’t agree to be voluntarily admitted for treatment, an involuntary commitment petition would be filed. Patients who voluntarily committed themselves would do so with the understanding that they would be barred from purchasing firearms. If patients refused to give up their gun-purchasing rights, the involuntary commitment process would proceed. The bill includes a pathway for people to petition the court to regain their gun-purchasing rights after they are treated. A doctor would have to agree that the person should regain the right.”
The fact that the NRA supports this legislation doesn’t help at all. That’s probably why the bill passed both state houses so easily. But, I don’t care that they support it. Any restriction on gun ownership, no matter how well intentioned, no matter how supported by the NRA, should be rejected.
Florida is following in California’s footsteps. In California, state Department of Justice officials have been on a witch-hunt for some 40,000 residents who are deemed “mentally ill.” All it takes to get on their mentally ill list is to have been to a mental health facility. You don’t even have to actually be mentally ill. In fact, they can force people into a mental health hospital, and that’s all it takes for them to legally take your guns away.
Florida’s headed in this same direction all because people fell for what started off as well-intentioned legislation aimed at keeping guns out of the “wrong hands.” Couple this with what a Florida sheriff said about reporting anybody who “hates the government” to the police so that they can investigate that person to find out if he needs mental health treatment. If a caseworker decides that that person needs treatment, and if that person has any firearms, they will be confiscated, and that person will be barred from ever owning firearms again. Unless a doctor says that he is no longer a danger to himself or others. And what are the chances of that happening?
Yes, Governor Scott should veto this bill. But with the NRA’s backing, my guess is that he’ll sign it into law so that the witch-hunt for “mentally ill” gun-owners can begin.