MO bill requires doctors to notify police of mentally unstable patients

MO bill requires doctors to notify police of mentally unstable patients

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A bill in the Missouri House would require health professionals to report a patient's unstable mental capacity to possess a firearm to the county sheriff's office.

The bill would require health professionals to notify the federal government and the county sheriff of the patient's address within 24 hours.

It also requires that the patient be notified by certified mail within 10 days of the report that the health care professional notified the federal government of the patient's mental status.

County sheriffs issue conceal and carry permits for Missouri.

"All we can do [now] is run a criminal history check and see if the person had any felony convictions or any kind of convictions of misdemeanors involving a weapon of some sort," Perry County Sheriff Gary Schaaf said. "They ask them if they've ever had any issues with [mental illness] or been committed to a mental facility for evaluation and treatment and if you didn't want to answer yes to that you, could say no, and we wouldn't know and wouldn't be able to find out if that's true or not."

Schaaf said the department can run a person's criminal history and send fingerprints off. But, that doesn't necessarily catch a history of mental illness.

"We're back in the same boat where we can run a criminal history but we can't find out if the person's ever been in a mental institution or mental instability," Schaaf said. "We've been doing it for a few years. I've never heard anything from them saying that this person needs to be looked at closely because some sort of a mental issue. That could be that they're not applying it, or they slip through, I don't know. The only thing we can check though is criminal history."

In the new bill, if the provision isn't met according to standards, the health professional could face a class A misdemeanor; and any false or incorrect information provided to the federal government would give the patient a private cause of action.

"The person with some sort of mental issues may see a doctor before they come see the sheriff," Schaaf said. "As it stands right now, the only way we would know is if that person lived here and we had to deal with them in some way because of a mental issue. But, if they move here from somewhere else we don't have a clue."

Schaaf says he appreciates any extra information concerning conceal carry applications and mental illness.

"We don't want people to get firearms and have some sort of a national issue with a school shooting in the state of Missouri and they're kind of tying our hands by not giving us access to the information," he said. "So, I would really like to see that available to us."

St. Charles County Representative Justin Hill proposed House Bill 2413 in its second reading on Monday.

If passed, the bill could go into effect as early as August 26.

Download the KFVS News app: iPhone | Android

Copyright 2016 KFVS. All rights reserved.