Under a new bill sent to the Governor by state lawmakers, Floridians battling mental illness will be banned from purchasing a gun.
Supporters say it will save lives, while medical professionals say it will wrongfully take away second amendment rights for a large group of Floridians.
A loophole in Florida law has allowed people diagnosed with mental illnesses to continue purchasing firearms, until lawmakers closed the loophole with just one dissenting vote. “If it’s just one and they save one life, it’s a significant bill,” said Representative Barbara Watson (D) Miami.
The bill gained support by Democrats, Republicans and the NRA. “Keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous people with mental illness saves lives,” said NRA past President Marion Hammer.
The legislation requires people who voluntarily commit themselves to give up their gun rights. “This only keeps mentally ill people who are determined to be dangerous from being able to buy guns,” she said.
But thousands have called or emailed the governor seeking a veto of the bill. “I hope the governor vetoes it,” said counselor Robert Carton. Health officials worry the legislation will keep people from seeking treatment. “It’s likely to create the opposite effect of what legislators are intending,” he said. “Not everybody with a mental illness is homicidal, not everybody with a mental illness is suicidal.”
90-thousand mentally ill Floridians are already prohibited from buying guns. If the governor signs the bill that number is expected to drastically increase. If signed into law, the mentally ill would be prohibited from buying a gun after July 1st.