New Bill Sitting On Governor's Desk Limits Gun Rights For Mental - WMBB News 13 - The Panhandle's News Leader

New Bill Sitting On Governor's Desk Limits Gun Rights For Mentally Ill

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"If you've ever seen the book that actually defines all of the mental health disorders," said Tricia Pearce with Life Management of Northwest Florida. "It's pretty thick."

Peace says a mental disorder or illness is diagnosable by a psychiatrist and significantly disrupts any form of an individual's life.

"One in four people in a given year can be diagnosed with a mental illness," said Pearce.

A new bill sitting on Governor Rick Scott's desk is targeting those who are mentally ill. House Bill 1355 broadens current legislation that prohibits the purchase of a firearm to include those who have who have been involuntarily Baker-Acted and who have then voluntarily admitted themselves for treatment, where an examining physician considers he or she to be dangerous to themselves or to others.

"I guarantee everybody in our community, everybody at some point during the day is around someone who has been diagnosed with a mental illness," said Pearce. "That doesn't mean they're going to be violent."

She says research shows that those with diagnosable mental illness are actually less violent than those aren't mentally ill.

"We've actually found there more like to be victims of violence because their more vulnerable," said Pearce.

Meanwhile, the National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action is urging support of the bill.  Monday, NRA's past president Marion Hammer urged members and friends to email the Governor.

"People need to be able to use their second amendment right, but it also should be to responsible people," said Ronald Groom, owner of C&G Sporting Goods in Panama City.

He says he has a moral responsibility when it comes to selling a gun.

"If someone comes into this store to purchase a gun, we don't worry about what laws or this or that, if somebody we feel like is not qualified, under drugs, or drunk, or acts strange, we're not gonna sell them a gun," explained Groom.

Under HB 1335, those who would meet the extended requirements of what it means to be "committed to a mental institution," would be given a written notice that he or she can't purchase a firearm, nor can he or she apply or keep a concealed weapon or firearms license.

The governor has until July 1st to choose whether to sign the bill into law.

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