State Senator Greg Evers is upset with State Rep. Barbara Watson. Her House Bill 1355 regarding Purchase of Firearms by Mentally Ill Persons has been approved by the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee vote and Evers believes it could have dire consequences for his Northwest Florida district that covers all of Escambia, Santa Rosa and a part of Okaloosa counties.
“Most of my constituents are mentally ill,” said Evers in a phone interview. “There won’t be a gun left in north Escambia or Santa Rosa counties.”
Rep. Watson was undeterred.
“The legislation that I have sponsored will enhance Florida’s ability to keep persons with mental illnesses who are known to be a danger to themselves or others from purchasing firearms in Florida,” said Watson in a press release. “I believe that House Bill 1355 will give needed protection, and I look forward to continued bipartisan support of this important initiative.”
Under HB 1355, a person could be prohibited from purchasing a firearm if the examining physician finds the person imminently dangerous to himself or others and files a special certificate that if the person doesn’t agree to voluntary commitment for treatment, an involuntary commitment petition will be filed.
At the time the person is diagnosed as dangerous, the person would receive written notice of the certification and agrees to accept voluntary commitment with a full understanding that he or she will be prohibited from purchasing a firearm or applying for a concealed weapons or firearms license or retaining one.
Evers, who lives near Baker—the town for which the Baker Act was named—said he will fight the bill when he makes to the Florida Senate.
“Crazy people have the same Second Amendment rights as everyone else,” he said. “They aren’t any more threat to the public than other Tea Party members.”