Bill To Speed Up Gun Background Checks Becomes Law

September 27, 2010
Contact: Rodney Foo @ (408) 282-8920

Legislation designed to enhance safeguards preventing unstable people from obtaining firearms was signed into law today by the Governor.

AB 302, introduced by Assemblymember Jim Beall, requires mental health facilities to notify the state Department of Justice by electronic means when patients are admitted, a process designed to end delays in updating the department’s records – data referenced for firearm purchases.

“If this change in the law prevents at least one suicidal person from getting their hands on a gun, it will have been worth it,’’ Beall said.

“AB 302 will help keep guns away from people who pose a danger to themselves or others or police officers by increasing the efficient transfer of mandated information from mental health offices to state law enforcement.’’

Beall authored the bill after he was contacted by a constituent whose son had purchased a firearm shortly after his release from a mental health facility. He was able to obtain the gun because the department had not yet received information from the facility when it conducted the background check.

Statues prohibit certain people who have been admitted to a mental health facility from purchasing or possessing firearms for a period of five years. Currently, facilities are allowed to report patient admissions by mail to the Justice Department, causing the state to manually enter the information into the background check database. Frequently, many facilities delay sending the required information for weeks or even months so they may consolidate their shipment of records.

AB 302 accelerates the reporting process by requiring the transmission of information electronically in a manner to be determined by the department.