A Better Way to Keep Guns Away From the Severely Mentally Ill

A Better Way to Keep Guns Away From the Severely Mentally Ill

David Katz should never have been able to legally purchase two handguns before embarking on his deadly shooting spree in Jacksonville, Florida, where he killed two and wounded 10 others before taking his own life on Sunday. The killer in Florida’s latest mass shooting had a documented history of severe psychiatric problems yet was able to purchase his weapons from a licensed dealer in Maryland. While mentally ill people are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators of it, existing laws and procedures don’t do enough to keep guns out of chronic patients’ reach — for their own good as well as everyone else’s. Katz, 24, reportedly had been in treatment since at least age 12 and had been prescribed anti-psychotic medicine. A therapist once stated Katz had experienced a "psychiatric crisis" and had been hospitalized twice for psychiatric illness. Police had been called out to the family home 26 times. Katz’s level of chronic and serious mental illness combined with a troubled history with domestic disputes still fell below Maryland’s legal threshold. The state blocks gun sales to anyone who has voluntarily entered a psychiatric treatment facility for at least 30 straight days. This year, Maryland’s General Assembly passed a "red-flag" law allowing individuals to petition the court for an "extreme-risk protective order" if a loved one appears to be an imminent threat to themselves or others. Beginning Oct. 1, if a judge finds an individual poses such harm, a temporary order would allow police to […]

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