States are letting people ban themselves from owning a gun

(NewsNation) — In Washington state, you can ask the state to deny you the right to buy a firearm.

This first-of-its-kind law was the brainchild of Democrat state Sen. Jamie Pedersen. Several years ago, a pair of law professors approached him with the idea of allowing people to voluntarily give up their gun rights.

Pedersen acknowledges shortcomings in the law’s current implementation and wants to make changes in the future. He noted, for instance, the fact that the law includes no penalty, which prevents the FBI from keeping the prohibited person in the national instant background check system.

One proposal he’s thinking about is making it a civil infraction to violate the waiver.

Second, Pedersen wants to expand public knowledge about the law.

“We’re also planning to add language that would actually encourage mental health professionals to talk with their patients about the availability of the voluntary waiver,” he said.

To Surovell, the Virginia state senator, the positive feedback he’s received is evidence that the law was needed.

“A lot of people don’t identify very well with people who’ve been through suicidal ideation…so it’s hard for a lot people to understand. But the people who’ve been through it, a lot of them have thanked me for putting it in,” Surovell said.