Bonta Authors Bill to Prevent Gun Suicides

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

AB 1927 Allows People Fearing Suicide to Voluntarily Suspend Gun Purchasing Ability

(Sacramento, CA) – Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland) introduced AB 1927, which will allow people fearing suicide to voluntarily and confidentially submit their own names to California’s background check system to prevent themselves from purchasing a gun. 

AB 1927 provides those battling suicidal thoughts an option to protect themselves by temporarily limiting their access to purchase firearms during a time of crisis. The bill also allows the individual to remove their name from the system once they can show they are no longer a danger to themselves or others.

“We know suicide can be an impulsive decision that most survivors regret,” Bonta said. “Guns are lethal and, unfortunately, rarely allow for second chances. Driven by research showing a correlation between gun purchases and suicidal actions, this bill gives people the power to create a potentially life-saving barrier.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1,051 people died in California by gun suicide in 2015. Despite a waiting period in California, a study found that Californians were 57 times more likely to commit suicide in the first week after a gun purchase.

This public health approach is supported by various advocacy groups.

"Temporary voluntary self-prohibition is an innovative suicide prevention strategy,” said Bryan Barks, Executive Editor with the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. “Those who suffer from chronic suicidality, including those with mental illness, can make informed decisions about their care; this policy gives them a pathway to do so.”

"Brady strongly supports policies and programs that empower those among us who struggle with suicidal ideations and suicide impulses, often related to depression, anxiety, mental health issues and those faced with crisis," stated Peggy McCrum, President of the California Chapters of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "We know there can be no significant reduction in, nor prevention of, gun violence in America without seriously addressing safe storage, access to guns by those at-risk, and gun suicide. That is why we support the concept of individuals having the means to self-report on their own terms so that they limit their own ability to acquire firearms to protect themselves from self-harm and gun suicide."

“Suicide affects a large and growing number of families in California. But these tragedies are preventable,” said Ari Freilich, California Legislative Affairs Director at Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. “We support legislation that would empower people struggling with suicidal urges to promote their own health and safety in moments of calm and clarity by voluntarily adding their names to confidential gun background check databases for a temporary period.”

“California has enacted some of the nation’s strongest gun laws, but does not allow for people to self-restrict their ability to purchase a firearm. This is a common-sense measure that will save lives in California. Suicide is preventable and people should have this ability to protect themselves,” concluded Bonta.

Assemblymember Rob Bonta represents the 18th Assembly District, which includes Oakland, Alameda, and San Leandro and is the Assistant Majority Leader and Chair of the Asian Pacific Islander (API) Legislative Caucus.