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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

Sen. Feinstein introduces bill to keep firearms away from individuals with severe mental illness

Dianne Feinstein

As the third anniversary passes of the deadly Isla Vista, California shootings, which killed six people and injured 14 others, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced a bill that would allow family members to keep guns away from those who have a severe mental illness.

The Gun Violence Prevention Order Act would allow states to use Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) funding to develop a court process that permits family members to petition to a court for a gun violence prevention order that would, on a temporary basis, block an individual from purchasing a weapon at a federally-licensed gun dealer.

Should a prevention order be granted, the individual in question would be designated as a prohibited purchaser in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The legislation also allows states the ability to develop a court process that would allow a family member to petition a court for a gun violence prevention warrant that would allow law enforcement to temporarily take weapons from an individual deemed to have a severe mental illness and present a threat to themselves or others.

“One common thread that runs through mass shootings in this country is that family and friends were often aware that the perpetrators had significant mental illness and posed a threat to themselves or others,” Feinstein said. “The family of the Isla Vista shooter had called law enforcement, fearing what their son might do, but police had no power to act. Families have little recourse if they want to ensure their loved ones do not get their hands on guns that could be used to kill themselves or others.”

A similar version of the bill was introduced during the 114th Congress by former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA).