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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: January 5, 2015 09:02 AM
From: Representative W. Curtis Thomas
To: All House members
Subject: Firearms and mental illness
In the near future, I plan to re-introduce legislation that would limit individuals with mental illness from receiving a gun permit and/or purchasing firearms.

The right of American citizens to own, register and carry firearms has a significant history of federal and local regulation dating to the early 18th Century. With the passage of the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, people who have been treated for mental illness and/or substance abuse are among a defined group restricted from owning and carrying firearms.

After the Virginia Tech tragedy, Congress passed the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Act, which gives states financial incentives to release to the Attorney General all relevant records on individuals who are prohibited by federal law from possessing firearms. The records covered include automated information needed by NICS to identify felony convictions, felony indictments, fugitives from justice, drug arrests and convictions, prohibiting mental health adjudications and commitments, domestic violence protection orders, and misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence.

Anyone who has purchased a gun in Pennsylvania is familiar with the mental health question that appears on both the federal and state gun-purchase applications: “Have you ever been declared incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental health institution?” This question seems reasonable enough. My bill would add an additional question that asks: “Have you ever been treated for any type of mental illness by a licensed professional?”

My legislation answers the public call for increased control in matters of firearm licensure of people with mental illnesses.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation.

(Formerly HB 335 of the 2013-14 Legislative Session)

Introduced as HB285