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Zirkin: Laws on firearms, mental health to be reviewed

Sen. Robert A. 'Bobby' Zirkin, D-Baltimore County

Sen. Robert A. ‘Bobby’ Zirkin, D-Baltimore County

A Maryland legislator says laws regarding firearms possession and mental health will be revisited in the next General Assembly session.

Sen. Robert A. “Bobby” Zirkin, who chairs the Judicial Proceedings Committee, said Tuesday the shooting at a Florida video game tournament by a suspect from Maryland highlights the need to examine laws regarding the time someone can be voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility and still pass a background check.

Now, a person can’t pass a background check if voluntarily admitted for at least 30 consecutive days.

Zirkin, D-Baltimore County, says it “should be less than that.” However, he says it’s a complicated law that should be applied on a case-by-case basis. That’s because some people could voluntarily have 30 days of inpatient treatment and not pose a danger.

Meanwhile, experts in Maryland say David Katz’s history of mental illness apparently wouldn’t have stopped him from buying guns before he killed two people and wounded 10 and then killed himself.

Maryland law prevents someone from passing a background check to buy guns if they were either involuntarily committed for any period of time or voluntarily admitted to a psychiatric facility for at least 30 consecutive days. Katz was hospitalized at least twice, but Daniel Webster, who directs the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, says his treatment wasn’t enough to disqualify him.

Maryland State troopers are responsible for investigating gun purchases in Katz’s home state, but they’re not talking for now to avoid interfering with the investigation in Jacksonville.