Colorado Bill Could Lead to Gun Limits for Those with Substance Abuse, Mental Illness

Legislators in Colorado are considering a measure that would create a task force to look at whether gun restrictions should be instituted for people with substance abuse problems or mental illness.

The task force would “advise the general assembly regarding issues surrounding the loss, maintenance, and restoration of the right to purchase and possess firearms by persons who, as a result of mental health issues, alcohol abuse, or substance abuse, are clearly dangerous to the health and safety of themselves or others,” the bill states. The bill’s sponsor, Beth McCann, said she introduced it in the wake of the Aurora movie theater massacre. The suspect had been seeing a psychiatrist before the shooting, the Associated Press reports.

The measure passed one Colorado House committee, and now moves to another committee. If approved by that body, it would move to the full House. Opponents are concerned a task force would stigmatize people with mental health issues, and discourage them from seeking treatment.

The bill states the task force would be bipartisan, and would include mental health professionals, legislators and gun experts. It would issue a report by January 2015.

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    Lyn Lee

    April 25, 2013 at 7:05 AM

    Has anyone considered HIPAA? This is a federal law requiring privacy to ones medical records. How is the government going to access this? Do we want “Big Brother” poking around in our medical records. Substance abuse and mental illness are records that are not normally released at all. Mental health professionals are required by law to notify law enforcement if a patient is considered dangerous to themselves or others. Where do we go from there? This raises a much larger issue.

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    Michael Abbott

    April 24, 2013 at 11:40 PM

    It is pretty well accepted that people with mental health problems are most likely to be victims, not perpetrators, of violence. I don’t think focusing on mental health as a correlate of gun violence is going to bring about any solutions unless we recognize that people who own guns for their own protection have their own special mental health diagnosis.

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