Dear Representative (or Senator),
I urge you to oppose HB 2532. Its proponents claim that it would provide a more concrete means for people who have been found incompetent to bear arms due to mental disability to have their rights restored but, in reality, it would do no such thing. Under current state law, when a person's court-ordered treatment is terminated, his rights are automatically restored. Under HB 2532, a person would first have to convince doctors and a judge that he is fit to possess firearms. This would be a near-impossible task when one considers that both the American Bar Association and the psychiatric profession are, by and large, virulently anti-gun, and that even those psychiatrists who do not harbor an anti-gun bias would be loath to testify that any person is fit to own a firearm due to fear of malpractice lawsuits over said person's possible future criminal activities with guns. The end result of this legislation would be to restore virtually no one's right to possess a gun under federal law while stripping thousands of their right to possess a gun under state law.
HB 2532 is well intentioned, but ill-advised. It will result in a net loss of gun rights and snare more of the non-violent mentally ill into our already overcrowded jails and prisons where they do not belong.
Current Arizona law regarding guns and the mentally ill is already harsher than it needs to be. If anything, the prohibition in ARS 13-3101 regarding firearms and the mentally ill should be repealed altogether. When a person is on court-ordered treatment, the terms of the court order prohibit him from possessing firearms, anyway, and if he violates the terms of court order, he can be rehospitalized by the mental heath authorities. This, and not a felony prosecution, is the just and proper way to deal with a mentally ill person who has harmed no one, is merely in possession of a firearm, and may not have even been found by the courts to constitute a danger to anyone but himself.
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