A bill that would require armed-guard applicants to undergo mental health evaluations is making its way through the California Senate.
If approved by the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown, the new law would make numerous changes to the regulation and oversight of security guards in the state:
- Security guard applicants would be required to undergo mental health evaluations by licensed psychologists before they receive firearms permits. Applicants also would be required to submit an affidavit signed by the psychologist to the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services.
- Both security companies and security guards must report the discharge of a firearm to the bureau.
- The bureau would be required to conduct inspections of all licensed firearm training facilities.
The proposal, sponsored by state Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, follows a state audit and a Reveal investigation, which found that armed guards rarely are vetted for mental health problems before being granted permission to carry guns. Reveal also found that the Bureau of Security and Investigative Services has failed to track security guard shootings and conduct timely and thorough investigations.
The bureau already has implemented some changes. In response to questions from state senators following the Reveal investigation, the bureau began tracking security guard shootings.
According to a recent report submitted to the Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee, between July 1, 2014, and March 1, 2015, the bureau received 54 reports of violent incidents involving security guards. Nearly half of those cases – 24 – involved shootings by armed guards.
Earlier this week, state senators passed the bill, SB 468, out of the economic development committee. Its next stop is the Appropriations Committee.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated who is required to file discharge reports in California. Both security guard employers and employees are required to file the reports.
This story was edited by Amy Pyle and copy edited by Nikki Frick.
Shoshana Walter can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @shoeshine.