KANSAS CITY, Kan. — There’s a proposed law in Kansas that some say would close a loophole that allows people with severe mental illness to own and buy guns.
This isn’t necessarily the same as the controversial red flag law, which allows the police or family members to ask a judge to take away a person’s gun rights.
House Bill 2095 would prevent people with extreme mental illness that refuse treatment from having or buying guns until they finish treatment and prove they are OK in front of a judge.
The bill would leave the door open for people who lose their rights to petition a judge to get them back.
House Bill 2095 would apply to people who are involuntarily committed to mental health facilities in temporary custody. Involuntary custody is the legal process in front of a judge that mandates emergency mental health treatment for someone who refuses it.
Keith Rickard is the executive director of The Guidance Center, which is 1 of 26 facilities in Kansas that screens patients to see if they should be hospitalized for mental health conditions.
“Typically that would mean a serious mental illness such as major depression, bipolar illness, schizophrenia and those persons are full blown experience of those symptoms their reasoning may not be good and they would be threatening violence against others or themselves as a result of their mental illness,” Rickard said.
House Bill 2095 would prevent people who are recommended for emergency involuntary hospitalization for mental health concerns from having or buying firearms until they finish treatment and appear before a judge for a final hearing.
Leavenworth County Attorney Todd Thompson said this will make the community safer and close a loophole.
“These are the most extremes of people that have mental health issues of the 26 filings that we had last year for care and treatments 10 of those had criminal cases a joint to them and that’s nearly half of the cases were facing,” Thompson said. “I don’t want to call this a gun law I just want to call it a community safety measure.”
People who are involuntarily admitted for temporary hospitalization would be allowed to petition the court to get their gun rights back. Kevin Jamison, president of the Western Missouri Shooters Association, said he sees no loophole in the current law.
“If a judge bangs his gavel and says you have a mental disease and commits you to a mental health facility, that goes into a national computer and you can’t buy a gun and aren’t allowed to possess them under federal law,” Jamison said. “I see this as a solution in search of a problem.”
Rickard believes this law could help keep guns away from people who might do harm to themselves or others while they wait for treatment.
“Presently there aren’t enough beds at the state hospital to house all of the people we recommend for treatment there’s there a continuous wait list for those people, so I think that helps with this law,” Rickard said.
“One stigma about this is that someone experiencing mental illness will always experience it and that’s not true. They can recover fully and operate and function in society just like anyone else can and should be able to own a firearm when their mental health is stable.”
HB 2095 is in the judiciary committee. There was a hearing on February 2. There’s no word on when lawmakers will vote on this.