Attorney General Speaks out on Mentally Ill Firearm Owners - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Attorney General Speaks out on Mentally Ill Firearm Owners

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KENNEWICK, Wash.- After several shootings around the country involving mentally ill suspects, Washington's top lawyer wants to make sure nothing happens in our state.

Attorney General Rob McKenna says Washington's laws need to change.

To do that he says he'll pressure the legislature to make sure anyone who's been involuntarily committed for two weeks or more to a mental hospital, can't legally possess a gun.

"No one wants the mentally ill to have access to firearms while they're, while they're sick.  This is something I think we can all agree on and the Virginia Tech tragedy brought home in a devastating way what can happen when the system breaks down," McKenna said. 

Owners at one Kennewick gun shop wouldn't go on camera Thursday, but say mentally ill gun ownership is a hot button issue, so much so a question on the firearms purchase form reads: "Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?" but that's not stopping the mentally ill from getting guns, just ask the police.

"Frequently we do run into that, and un, you know it's very volatile issue, it's something that obviously we want to make sure that our biggest concern is for the person's safety and for the safety of our community when someone is mentally unstable," said Sgt. Scott Child with the Kennewick Police Department.

Current law only allows police to take guns away while a person is being evaluated.

If they're not committed and there's no crime, the weapons are returned.

McKenna's proposal would match Washington law with federal law and make sure those who've been committed can't legally carry guns.

"We found some pretty glaring gaps.  We've got to get better and be faster at assembling this information," McKenna said. 

The proposal would also create a state database for the mentally ill that police could immediately access to check whether a person has ever been committed.

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