Massachusetts Considers Mental Health Gun Bill

Lawmakers on Beacon Hill are trying to tackle the difficult topic of guns and mental health by proposing a bill that would reduce access to firearms for those at risk of harming themselves or others.

The bill is being sponsored by Representative David Linsky (D-Natick) and he says it aims to close a loophole in Massachusetts law.

"It's a loophole that doesn't allow police to take their guns away even in an incredibly dangerous situation," Rep. Linsky said.

The bill would establish what are called "Extreme Risk Protection Orders." Anyone concerned about an individual would have to ask a judge to grant one, and if successful, it would temporarily reduce the person's access to firearms.

The mission is personal for Jenna Yuille, who lost both of her parents to gun violence in Oregon. She believes a protective order, like the ones mentioned in the bills she advocates for across the nation, could have possibly saved her father. He used a gun to commit suicide a few years after her mother's murder.

"There's no going back once you pull the trigger," Yuille said. "And if you can prevent someone's rash, spur-of-the-moment decision, then you have more time to get them the help they really need."

What supporters say is a step in the right direction, opponents say is the wrong way to address mental health issues.

"It identifies someone as an extreme mental health risk, drags them through a court process and then what? Then nothing," Jim Wallace of the Gun Owners' Action League said.

Wallace says he is not against saving lives, but argues the bill violates civil rights with a process his group does not agree with.

The bill has yet to make it out of committee, but if it does make it to the floor and the governor's desk, Massachusetts would be the 5th state to create Extreme Risk Protection Orders.

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