Local Government

Governor Signs Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva’s Bill That Closes Loophole to Prevent Firearm Possession for Pretrial Mental Health Diversion Participants

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva (D – Fullerton) announced that Governor Gavin Newsom signed AB 455 into law on September 26, 2023, closing the legal loophole that allows criminal defendants who suffer from mental illness to possess guns by prohibiting individuals in pretrial mental health diversion for a felony or specified misdemeanor charge from owning a firearm until they successfully complete diversion.

“California has long imposed gun restrictions on individuals convicted of felonies and certain misdemeanor crimes,” said Assemblywoman Quirk-Silva. “To be very clear, I understand the vast number of people who suffer from mental illness do not act out violently or commit crimes. However, individuals who have been charged with specified criminal offenses and choose to participate in a mental health diversion program should adhere to gun restrictions while in the program.”

In 2018, California established its mental health diversion program, offering an array of criminal justice interventions designed to address the underlying causes of criminal behavior while promoting treatment and services. Successful completion of the program enables defendants to avoid criminal convictions that could hinder their rehabilitation efforts. AB 455 grants the prosecution the authority to petition the court for an order prohibiting a defendant enrolled in a mental health diversion program from owning or possessing a firearm if they pose a threat to themselves or others. This prohibition remains in effect until the individual successfully completes diversion or until their firearm rights are restored.

“Anything we can do to reduce the risk of gun violence is a step toward making our communities safer,” said Assemblymember Diane Papan (D – San Mateo).  “I am grateful to have worked with my colleague Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva and my own San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe on this critical piece of legislation.”

Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva represents the 67th Assembly District, which includes the Orange County communities of Anaheim, Buena Park, Cypress, Fullerton, and La Palma, as well as the Los Angeles County communities of Artesia, Cerritos, and Hawaiian Gardens.