Suffolk Passes Gun Control Aimed at Mentally Ill

Suffolk County legislators unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that aims to prevent people with documented psychiatric issues from getting their hands on guns.

The bill requires law enforcement agencies to check Suffolk County’s pistol license registries for the names of the people involuntarily taken to Stony Brook University’s Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) for mental health treatment.

“An involuntary transport to a psychiatric emergency room should be a red flag of an individual’s mental state,” said Legis. Kara Hahn (D-Setauket). “This is a common sense measure that moves us toward the goal of keeping guns from individuals too unstable to have access to such a weapon.”

The move comes two months after New York State lawmakers approved new gun control legislation aimed at preventing mass shootings such as those at a Connecticut school and a Colorado theater last year. Congress is also debating new control measures.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Edward Webber said he implemented the idea when Hahn brought it to his attention and that he supported codifying the procedure to require the checks by law, which extends to the five East End towns beyond the police district.

Nearly 3,000 people are taken to CPEP annually for mental health evaluations. Those taken there involuntarily have been deemed by police to be a potential threat to themselves or others.

Anyone taken to the unit whose name and address match information in the pistol license registries will be investigated by the respective pistol licensing bureau, which will make a decision regarding suspension or revocation of the person’s license.

Hahn said the measure puts the task on police, which is different than a provision in the new state law requiring mental health providers report to authorities when they have knowledge that a person is likely to harm themselves or others.

She added that police already refer names to pistol licensing bureaus that come up in domestic violence-related calls.

The bill now goes to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

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