California Bill Would Bar Suicidal Residents From Purchasing Guns

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A California state lawmaker introduced legislation this week with the goal of reducing suicides by gun.
SFGate reports that the bill from Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, would allow people who fear they are at risk of suicide to anonymously and confidentially submit their names to the state office that conducts background checks for firearm purchases, in order to prevent themselves from purchasing a gun.
Gun suicides claimed 1,051 lives in 2015 in California, according to Bonta’s office, which cited statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Additionally, despite a 10-day mandatory waiting period in the state, a study found that

Californians are 57 times more likely to commit suicide in the first week after purchasing a gun, according to a statement on Bonta’s website.

“We know suicide can be an impulsive decision that most survivors regret,” Bonta said. “Guns are lethal and, unfortunately, rarely allow for second chances. Driven by research showing a correlation between gun purchases and suicidal actions, this bill gives people the power to create a potentially life-saving barrier.”
Once a person submits their name to the state’s background check system, the office would notify licensed gun dealers that the person is prohibited from legally buying a firearm, SFGate says. Through a process involving a court hearing, a person may have their name removed from the list upon showing they are no longer a danger to themselves.

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The bill has garnered support among gun control advocates.
“Temporary voluntary self-prohibition is an innovative suicide prevention strategy,” said Bryan Barks, executive editor with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Those who suffer from chronic suicidality, including those with mental illness, can make informed decisions about their care; this policy gives them a pathway to do so.”
Ari Freilich, California legislative affairs director at the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, also said the organization supports “legislation that would empower people struggling with suicidal urges to promote their own health and safety in moments of calm and clarity by voluntarily adding their names to confidential gun background check databases for a temporary period.”

“California has enacted some of the nation’s strongest gun laws, but does not allow for people to self-restrict their ability to purchase a firearm. This is a common-sense measure that will save lives in California. Suicide is preventable and people should have this ability to protect themselves,” Bonta added.

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