Audit Slams California for Not Identifying Mentally Ill with Guns

October 30, 2013

A new state audit faults the California Department of Justice and the court system for failing to communicate about enforcing rules meant to restrict gun ownership by the mentally ill.

The Bureau of State Audits report found that 34 of the state's superior courts did not file required firearm prohibition reports to the justice department's mental health unit from 2010 through 2012. Most of the courts didn't know about the reporting requirement, according to the audit.

Auditors also found cases where justice department employees made the wrong decision about whether a mentally ill person was "an armed prohibited person" who is not entitled to a gun. Auditors raised concerns that department supervisors do not review the decisions.

In a response to the audit, Stephen J. Lindley, chief of the justice department's bureau of firearms, said it will improve outreach to the courts, mental-health facilities and state hospitals about the prohibited person reporting requirements. The office also agreed with the audit's recommendation that supervisors review decisions on armed prohibited persons, although it may need to hire more staff.

The audit follows several bills this year meant to tighten the rules on gun ownership by the mentally ill.

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