Legislation sponsored by Senator Jim Holzapfel (R-10) addressing firearms purchases by those with histories of mental health issues has been approved by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee.
Sen. Holzapfel’s bill would allow judges to hear from law enforcement when a person applies to have a mental health record expunged to become eligible to purchase a firearm. (©iStock)
The bill, S-2360/A-3593, requires law enforcement officials to be notified when a person applies to the court to have their mental health record expunged for the purposes of purchasing a firearm.
“Law enforcement officials are not currently involved in the determination of whether the mental health record of a prospective firearm purchaser should be expunged,” said Holzapfel. “This bill will ensure that police officers have the opportunity to inform judges of pending charges, criminal histories or abnormal behavior that may be relevant to determining whether it is safe for the applicant to own a firearm.”
Current law requires firearms retailers to conduct a background check of prospective purchasers, and an individual may be found ineligible to purchase a firearm due to their mental health record.
An expungement application can be filed to have a mental health record removed from the system. A determination is made on the application by a court based on the perceived threat the applicant poses to public safety based on their reputation in the community, criminal record and mental health history.
“Our background check system is designed to ensure that people who may not be competent to own a firearm are prevented from making a purchase that may put themselves or others in danger,” added Holzapfel. “It’s critical that we ensure the protections afforded by background checks are not easily circumvented.”