Lawmakers seek to boost mental health care, tighten gun laws with new bills

Lawmakers seek to boost mental health care, tighten gun laws with new bills
Lawmakers were joined by Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard in the announcement of the proposed bills Tuesday. (Source: HNN)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Hawaii lawmakers announced a legislative package Tuesday aimed at preventing gun violence in the state by filling the gaps in mental health care.

The bills were written following the Diamond Head tragedy in which a man who neighbors said had a history of mental illness killed his landlord and two police officers.

The proposed bills seeks to increase mental health training for Public Safety Department employees, and allots funding for more mental health resources and services.

Lawmakers are also proposing firearm legislation, including a measure that would ease police restrictions on searching for firearms in the homes and vehicles of individuals suspected of violating restraining orders and protective orders.

Another bill would make it illegal to possess a firearm in public while intoxicated.

Honolulu Police Chief Susan Ballard applauded the effort, noting the flaws in the system when it comes to mental health care.

“There is that gap at the hospitals where there is no specific length of time where they can keep them. Some may keep them for an hour some for 48 hours but then they are released back on the road,” Ballard said.

“We want to work together in a system with everyone that both protects public safety first and foremost and ensures the maximum amount of personal privacy due process for everyone,” added state Rep. Chris Lee.

The lawmakers say they have also agreed in principal to other tougher gun laws, which include dealing with guns when their owners die and ghost guns — partially constructed weapons that can be shipped without registration.

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