Firearm Safety (Watch)

Firearm Safety (Watch)

SB 7022 (Senate Rules Committee) provides law enforcement and the courts with the tools to enhance public safety by temporarily restricting firearm possession by a person who is undergoing a mental health crisis and when there is evidence of a threat of violence. 

The bill authorizes a law enforcement officer who is taking a person into custody for an involuntary examination under the Baker Act to seize and hold a firearm or ammunition the person possesses if the person poses a potential danger to himself or herself or others, and has made a credible threat of violence against another person. The law enforcement officer’s agency must hold any seized firearm or ammunition for at least 72 hours or until the person appears at the agency to retrieve the firearm or ammunition.

 The bill provides that a person who has been adjudicated mentally defective or who has been committed to a mental institution may not own a firearm or possess a firearm until relief from the firearm possession and firearm ownership disability is obtained. The bill provides a process to remove this disability that mirrors the process that currently exists, as it relates to the firearm purchase disability. 

The bill raises the age from 18 to 21 years of age for all firearm purchases from licensed firearm dealers, importers and manufacturers. This prohibition does not apply to a member of the military or naval forces of this state or of the United States or to a law enforcement or correctional officer.

 The three-day waiting period between the purchase of and the delivery of a handgun is amended by the bill to create a three-day waiting period for all firearms, not just handguns. Additionally, the bill extends the waiting period beyond three days if additional time is necessary to complete the firearm purchase background check. 

The bill defines “bump-fire stock” and prohibits the importation, transfer, distribution, transport, sale, keeping for sale, offering or exposing for sale, or giving away of a bump-fire stock. A violation of the prohibition is a felony of the third degree. 

The bill creates a process for a law enforcement officer or law enforcement agency to petition a court for a risk protection order. The intent of the process and court intervention is to temporarily prevent persons who are at high risk of harming themselves or others by accessing firearms when there is demonstrated evidence that they pose a significant danger to themselves or others, including significant danger as a result of a mental health crisis or violent behavior. 

If the court issues a risk protection order, it may do so for a period that it deems appropriate, up to and including but not exceeding 12 months. The bill also provides for an ex parte temporary risk protection order, if necessary, before the hearing on a final risk protection order. 

Within 24 hours after issuance, the clerk of the court shall forward a copy of an order to the appropriate law enforcement agency specified in the order. Upon receipt of the copy of the order, the law enforcement agency shall enter the order into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The law enforcement officer serving a risk protection order, including a temporary ex parte risk protection order, must request that the respondent immediately surrender all firearms and ammunition in his or her custody, control or possession and any license to carry a concealed weapon or firearm. The bill provides a procedure for an individual to petition to vacate the risk protection order.

If a risk protection order is vacated or ends without extension, a law enforcement agency holding a firearm or any ammunition that has been surrendered or seized must return such surrendered firearm or ammunition, only after confirming through a background check that the person is currently eligible to own or possess firearms and ammunition. 

A person may elect to transfer all firearms and ammunition that have been surrendered to or seized by a local law enforcement agency to another person who is willing to receive the person's firearms and ammunition. The law enforcement agency may allow such a transfer only if it is determined that the chosen recipient meets specified criteria. (Cook)