Study: More research needed in mental illness/gun regulations discussion

Research conducted by a state-appointed task force on the relationship between mental illness and regulated firearms reveals that those on the task force believe additional research is needed.

It also reveals that those conducting the study, a team made up of lawmakers, mental health experts and law enforcement officials, believe keeping guns out of the hands of all considered "mentally ill" may be too broad.

While current laws keep anyone who has been confined to more than 30 consecutive days and anyone diagnosed with a mental illness that has shown a tendency to become violent to possess firearms, those participating in the study say the relevant data is not easily accessible when performing a background check.

FINDING – Reporting Not Currently Mandated

"The strongest visible indicator that an individual may pose a risk to public safety is the act of making specific threats against themselves or other individuals. Such threatening behavior is a precursor to violence and provides a way to identify people (including those with serious mental illness) who are at immediate risk of committing violence. However, state law does not currently mandate reporting of these incidents. Even if a threat is reported to local law enforcement, there is currently no mechanism to ensure the MSP is aware of the incident for firearms licensing and enforcement purposes."

Among other concerns for the researchers are that when a person has been deemed violent and a threat to self or others, there is no seizure of firearms that takes place. The recommendation is that an appropriate seizure in those situations is a must.

Finally, things like crisis management training for law enforcement officers and funding for programs are deemed a must as it is shared via the report that law enforcement officers receive very little training in recognizing symptoms of severe mental illness and interacting with those who suffer a severe mental illness.

Funding becomes an issue, according to those conducting the study, as additional licensing, applications and training will obviously come with a price tag. Among recommendations, application fees would match funding requirements.

View/print/download a copy of the report below.


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