Esty, other gun control proponents, shift focus to mentally ill

Washington – Following a trouble’s college student’s shooting and stabbing rampage that left six dead last week in California, Rep. Elizabeth Esty and other gun control supporters are focusing on legislation that would strengthen a ban on gun sales to the mentally ill.

Esty, D-5th District,  and other House Democrats introduced the “Promoting Healthy Minds for Safer Communities Act of 2014” on Friday that would increase federal resources for mental health intervention services and provide grants to states that strengthen their laws that prohibit the mentally ill from purchasing guns.

The legislation would also strengthen federal laws to prohibit the purchase or possession of a firearm by individuals subject to involuntary outpatient commitment if a court finds they pose a significant and dangerous threat to themselves or others. Current federal law has been interpreted to apply only to inpatient commitments.

“The vast majority of people living with mental illness are not violent and are far more likely to be victims then perpetrators of crime,” Esty said. “But if left untreated, mental illness can have serious implications for the individual, their families, and our communities.

Last week, Elliot Rodger, 22, shot and stabbed six people in Isla Vista, a community next to the University of California’s Santa Barbara campus, before killing himself.

The fate of the legislation in the GOP-controlled House is unclear.  House leaders have ignored all gun control bills that were introduced in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings nearly a year and a half ago.

With perhaps one exception.

The House on Thursday approved an amendment sponsored by Esty and Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., that would add nearly $20 million to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check program,  which screens buyers at gun shops. The amendment became part of a spending bill for the Commerce Department and Justice Department that was approved by the House Friday.

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