- Evan Gyorkos
SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D-Fullerton) and Assemblywoman Diane Papan (D-San Mateo) introduced legislation that will close a legal loophole that allows criminal defendants who suffer from mental illness to possess guns. AB 455 will extend post-conviction gun restrictions to criminal defendants who enter mental health diversion to the same extent as if the defendant was convicted of the underlying crime.
"AB 455 does not single out or label people with mental health illnesses, said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva." Many people suffer from mental illness, and do not act out violently or commit crimes. This legislation is a common sense public safety measure that would only affect individuals who have been charged with criminal offenses."
California has long imposed gun restrictions on individuals convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanor crimes. Firearm restrictions also apply in some circumstances to individuals who suffer from mental illness. Mental health diversion became effective in 2018, with the express purpose of diverting more individuals with mental disorders into appropriate programs while protecting public safety. Counties have seen a significant increase in criminal defendants who suffer from mental illness diverted under this statute. However, once a defendant has successfully completed their diversion program and their criminal case is dismissed, no post-conviction gun restriction applies.
“Anything we can do to reduce the amount of guns on our streets is a step toward making our communities safer," said Assemblymember Papan. "This legislation simply integrates California’s existing mental health firearm restrictions with Mental Health Diversion programs, underscoring California’s commitment to public safety.”
“I am pleased to co-sponsor and support AB 455, Assembly Members Sharon Quirk-Silva and Diane Papan's bill that will close a loophole that allows criminals who also suffer from a mental illness to possess a gun after no more than two years of treatment," said San Mateo County District Attorney Stephen M. Wagstaffe. The bill will prohibit criminals who choose mental health diversion from possessing a gun to the same extent as if they were convicted of the underlying crime. The change to the law preserves diversion for criminal defendants who suffer from mental illness, while also protecting the public.”