‘There is demonstrable evidence that there’s something going on in California that’s helping to stop gun violence’
California’s “5150” law allowing holds for people in psychiatric crisis improves the odds of stopping gun violence, gun-control advocates say. Supporters say the law can be one way to help curb mass shootings.
“There is demonstrable evidence that there’s something going on in California that’s helping to stop gun violence in a way that isn’t mirrored in most other states,” the Hearst Newspapers reported, quoting attorney Lindsay Nichols of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco.
Under the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code, section 5150, mental health professionals can commit those deemed to pose a threat to themselves or others to a care facility for 72 hours. If necessary, the stay can be extended for two weeks after a hearing, allowing patients to argue for their release.
California posted the ninth-lowest gun-death rate in 2010, compared to 16th highest in the country in 1990, according to Nichols, citing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention age-and population-adjusted numbers.
To safeguard patients’ rights, drug and alcohol use or plain odd antisocial behavior is not by itself grounds for 72-hour hold. A patient is only barred from possessing a gun if he or she is admitted to a mental health facility, said Dr. Amy Barnhorst, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of California, Davis, according to the Hearst article.
Gun-rights advocates say the 5150 gun probation comes at a price because there is no due process right to a hearing for those held less than 72 hours, according to the report.
“If any other fundamental right were taken away — free speech or voting rights — no one would stand for it,” said Jason Davis, an attorney in Mission Viejo (Orange County), who specializes in gun law and represents individuals subjected to 5150 holds, Hearst reported.