Disarming the mentally ill

State courts fail to report thousands of individuals disallowed from gun ownership

Dozens of California superior courts have failed to adequately report individuals who should be prohibited from owning a firearm due to mental illness, an audit finds.

California is the only state with a database tracking citizens disqualified from owning firearms due to mental illness, criminal convictions or restraining orders, according to The Sacramento Bee. But law-enforcement staffing shortages and budget cuts have slowed the process of seizing weapons from those not approved to own them; there are more than 20,800 such individuals statewide.

State law requires courts report to the state Department of Justice when they deem an individual unfit to bear arms; the report by the Bureau of State Audits found that of the 34 courts examined by the state auditor, 29 said they were unaware of the reporting requirement. Superior courts failed to report at least 2,300 firearm-prohibition reports from 2010 to 2012.