Bill would remove guns from 'gravely disabled' - - The News for South Mississippi

Bill would remove guns from 'gravely disabled'

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Tragedies such as the Newtown school massacre, the movie theater shooting in Aurora, CO and the Navy Yard rampage in Washington are all on the minds of Arizona lawmakers trying to prevent violence, but each party has a different view on how to do it.

Arizona Democratic Rep. Chad Campbell is authoring one bill he says would cut down on some of the violence.

"It's really a common sense move basically on our part," Campbell said of his bill.

Campbell's bill, HB 2356, would give police officers the ability to temporarily seize a firearm if they have probable cause to believe that person is mentally ill or "gravely disabled."

"Until you get cleared by a healthcare professional, you just can't have a firearm," Campbell said. "You may be a danger to yourself or others."

Campbell's "common sense move", however, is getting a lot of heat from some inside and outside the state legislature.

"Not every shooting in this country has been committed by a person with a mental illness," Peri Jude Radecic said.

Radecic is the executive director for the Arizona Center for Disability Law. According to her, Campbell's bill goes too far and could jeopardize constitutional rights afforded to everyone, including disabled Americans.

Republican lawmakers have their concerns over the way the bill is worded.

Rep. John Kavanagh is a former police officer and he calls the bill "overreaching."

"I think there could be civil liberties issues here," Kavanagh said. "I'm not sure police could ever be trained to the point where they can make these types of clinical diagnosis in the field."

However, Kavanagh is suggesting a similar bill that essentially gives police the same ability to diagnose a person as "a danger to self or others" in his own bill, HB 2105.

If Kavanagh's bill were to pass into law, police officers wouldn't take your gun away. Instead, the officer has the ability to take you away to get a mental evaluation at a hospital.

If these bills sound familiar, they should.

Kavanagh and Campbell both introduced the exact same bills last year. They both failed.

"It's more important that peace officers spend time taking criminals off the street." Radecic said. "That's what peace officers should be doing and not being judge and jury over who is a person with a mental illness and who isn't."

Critics of these possible changes to the law argue it gives police too much responsibility but some lawmakers say it's better to be cautious than ignore the warning signs.

For more on this story and other stories around Arizona from this author, follow Shawn Kline on Facebook and Twitter.

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