Armed security guards may face mental health check

Armed security guards in California soon may be required to pass a mental health evaluation if they want to carry a gun on the job.

Under a bill passed by the state Senate on Wednesday, state regulators also would be required to take immediate action against an armed guard if she or she is found to be mentally unstable or a threat to public safety – the kind of oversight requirement that might have prevented accused Orlando nightclub shooter Omar Mateen from getting a license to work as an armed security guard in Florida.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, is headed to Gov. Jerry Brown.

It comes in response to an investigation by Reveal from The Center for Investigative Reporting that found regulators in California and many other states frequently license armed guards who are poorly trained, mentally ill and prone to violence.

Reveal also found California regulators failed to investigate security guard shootings, permitted guards who shot people to keep their guns and allowed fraudulent firearms training facilities and security companies to keep their licenses.

In addition to requiring a mental health evaluation similar to a test used by regulators in Oklahoma, the bill also requires other changes spurred by Reveal’s reporting.

Under the proposed law, regulators would be able to take immediate action against armed guards if they’re arrested for violence or if an employer or member of the public reports unstable or threatening behavior. Both security companies and security guards would be required to report the firing of a gun to the state Bureau of Security and Investigative Services and would face increased penalties if they failed to submit reports. The agency also would be required to inspect all licensed firearms training facilities.

The governor has until Sept. 30 to veto or sign the bill.

Shoshana Walter can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @shoeshine.