Gun Control

Democrat Bill Would Require Mental Health Exam For Conceal Carry

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A state lawmaker from Palm Beach County recently filed a bill that would require a mental health examination in order to carry a concealed firearm in Florida.

The proposal comes in the wake of the recent mass shootings, but gun bills have historically faced obstacles in the Republican-dominated, Second Amendment-friendly State Legislature.

And the new bill raises questions about the practicality of mandating a mental health exam.

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Rep. Al Jacquet, a Democrat of Riviera Beach, said he filed the bill in response to President Donald Trump’s statements following the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio. President Trump said mental illness “pulls the trigger, not the gun.”

Jacquet’s bill would place a new requirement on applicants for concealed carry or concealed weapons permits.

Those applying would have to undergo a mental health evaluation by a psychologist or psychiatrist. A medical professional would have to indicate they’ve examined the applicant and the person is not suffering from “any serious mental illness.”

“This legislation would likely clog up the mental health system and prevent people who genuinely need the services from getting them,” said Carolyn North, a licensed clinical social worker in Boca Raton.

North called the bill a valiant effort to address gun violence, but pointed to chronic underfunding of mental health in Florida.

So how much for a mental health examination?

“By a psychiatrist, we’re talking $500 to $1,000,” North said.

Others quoted at least $300. Would courts would view such a cost as an unconstitutional impediment to carrying a gun?

And the legislation doesn’t spell out what constitutes a “serious mental illness.”

“It’s hard to know where you would draw the line of ‘serious,’” North said. “Are you talking about schizophrenic, our schizophrenic patients? Because if so, often they’re not any more dangerous.”

North feels it would be more helpful to make it easier for professionals to report of mental health threats. She said make such reporting mandatory and protected as it is in most states — similar to reporting child abuse currently in Florida.

“They say if you see something, say something,” she said. “We are unable to say something, because we risk lawsuit and losing our license if we got it wrong.”

Jacquet, who filed the bill, was not available for an interview until early evening Friday. CBS12 News hopes to speak with him about his bill in the future.


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