Congressman Jimmy Panetta (CA-20) helped introduce new legislation Thursday, April 26 to help states launch initiatives to remove guns from convicted felons and the dangerously mentally ill through a competitive grant program within the Department of Justice.
Panetta introduced the Armed Prohibited Persons Act of 2018 alongside Congressman and House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force Chairman Mike Thompson (CA-05).
The program is expected to assist states in developing a voluntary reference system that seeks separation of firearms from individuals who legally relinquished their ownership rights by committing a crime or being deemed dangerously mentally ill, according to a press release from Panetta’s office.
“Gun violence has become a daily reality for communities across the country,” Panetta said. “As Congress works to address this epidemic, we can start by supporting local law enforcement to connect with those whose access to legal firearms has been curtailed by a court of law because of public safety concerns. This bill will not limit a law-abiding citizen’s Second Amendment rights. Instead, it will expand states’ ability to remove firearms from those who are prohibited by law from possessing them.”
The bill is expected to make grants available to states that:
- Develop programs with the goal of removing firearms from armed prohibited persons
- Provide assurances that an armed prohibited person will have a reasonable opportunity to lawfully dispose of their firearms before the state takes action to retrieve them
- Will contribute pertinent information to the National Criminal Instant Background Checks System (NICS)
- Can sustain the operation of the proposed program
“One of the quickest and most effective ways to keep our communities safe from gun violence is to keep guns out of the hands of individuals who are prohibited from having them in the first place,” Thompson said. “The Armed and Prohibited Persons Act helps states do just that by giving them the resources to launch programs that remove firearms from those who [are] prohibited from owning them and strengthen the background checks system. This initiative has already had results in our state of California. It is a step we can and must take right now to help prevent gun violence.”
According to the press release, this legislation is modeled after a 2001 California state law that established the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System, which cross-references firearms owners across the state against criminal history records, mental health records, and restraining orders to identify individuals who have been, or will become, prohibited from possessing a firearm subsequent to the legal acquisition or registration of a firearm or assault weapon.