Colorado lawmaker working on bill to keep guns out of hands of dangerous people

Focus is on mentally ill and substance abusers

DENVER - A Denver lawmaker says it is more difficult that expected, but she's writing a bill to try to keep guns out of the hands of people who are a danger to themselves or to others because of mental illness, or because of substance abuse.

Rep. Beth McCann, D-Denver, told 7NEWS that she has been working on a bill for several months and that she is in the process of re-writing it to garner bipartisan support.

"Trying to craft legislation around those issues is a challenge," McCann said. "I have been working with the Republican leadership and they have been working with us. We're hopeful that we will come to an agreement for bipartisan support."

McCann says it is presumed that mental health issues played a role in several mass shootings, including those at a theater in Aurora, Congresswoman Gabby Giffords' neighborhood meeting in Tucson, and the Sandy Hook elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn..

Among the issues McCann is grappling with are, who makes the determination that someone is a danger, and who makes the determination that they can't have access to guns?  Is it mental health experts? The courts?

"One of the things the initial draft did was put the onus on mental health professionals to decide whether somebody should be able to maintain their second amendment right to have a firearm, or whether that right should be taken away," said House Minority Leader Mark Waller, R-El Paso County.  "The mental health professionals were very uncomfortable being put in that situation."

Waller said, "It seems a common theme when we've had these mass tragedies is that folks appear to be suffering from significant mental health issues. So that certainly is an area that we need to look at, and if we can come up with the right piece of legislation to do that responsibly, we'll be all for it."