House OKs bill to keep guns from mentally ill - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

House OKs bill to keep guns from mentally ill

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Nicole Gerber/ Associated Press
news@abc6.com

The Rhode Island House of Representatives has approved legislation aimed at keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill.
       
The bill passed unanimously on Tuesday.

It requires state courts to submit to the national criminal background check system limited information only about people who are involuntarily committed for mental health treatment and are deemed a danger.

"This law will ensure that anyone who is adjudicated in court as being seriously mentally ill, dangerous to him or herself or to others, will not be able to buy a weapon," said Democratic Rep. Deb Ruggeiro.

Those who seek treatment on their own wouldn't be affected.

"I think every good firearms dealer is going to agree that it's a bill we needed long ago. Why were we denied the knowledge of knowing who we can and cannot sell to? And that's what it amounts to," said Henry Almonte, owner of Universal Firearms Ltd. in Wakefield.

Gun enthusiasts are concerned the law may have some gray area.

"Should we be able to tell a veteran who served our country that has post traumatic stress that they can't have a firearm? I don't think that's right. So, there's just a lot to consider," said NRA member Cindy Almonte.

"This is not about somebody who's depressed or has anorexia or something like that. We're talking about people with serious mental illness who have been involuntarily committed and have been adjudicated in district court," said Ruggeiro.
     
The legislation creates a board to consider appeals from anyone prevented from having a gun because of mental illness.
       
A task force studied the issue of mental illness and gun rights after the 2012 school shootings in Newtown, Connecticut.
       
The bill must still be approved by the senate and signed by the governor.

If it passes courts will begin sending over the information next January.

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