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By Richard A. Webster, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune


A voluntary “do-not-sell” gun list in Louisiana would block people who fear they’re suicidal from buying a gun, while making it a crime to knowingly sell them a firearm, according to recently drafted legislation posted online Thursday (March 21)


The bill, known as “Donna’s Law” after a New Orleans woman who killed herself with a gun last year will be introduced in the legislative session that begins April 8, said author and sponsor Rep. Jimmy Harris, D-New Orleans.


The proposed law, which is modeled after similar legislation that passed in Washington, tasks the Louisiana State Police with creating the framework of the “do-not-sell” list. This is how it will work:


· Any person in the U.S. can confidentially, and electronically, request their names be added to the list, if they believe they are a suicidal or a potential threat to others, or for any other reason.


· The state police will maintain the list and ensure the included names are reflected in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which is used to identify people prohibited from buying guns from licensed dealers.


· It prohibits anyone from knowingly “selling or transferring” a firearm to someone on the list. The penalty for violating the law is a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in prison.

· Allows people on the list to include the emails of friends and loved ones they want to be notified when they sign up and should they decide to have their names removed;


· People on the list can be removed 21 days after they file a request.


· If they want to be immediately removed, they can file a petition with the 19th Judicial Court. A hearing will be held within 48 hours during which a judge will decide if the person’s risk of suicide has decreased or they have a “compelling need for a firearm in less than 21 days.”


· Once a person’s name is removed, the state police will destroy all records of the person’s registration.


· The law prohibits anyone from asking whether someone is on the list as a condition of employment, education, housing, insurance, government benefits, or contracting.

Harris, along with co-sponsor Sen. Danny Martiny, R-Metairie, put his support behind the bill following discussions with Katrina Brees, whose mother and the bill’s namesake, Donna Nathan, used a gun in her suicide last year. Nathan, who struggled with bipolar disorder for 30 years, purchased a gun June 26 then, just hours later, drove to Audubon Park and shot herself while sitting underneath a tree. It was the first gun Nathan ever owned.


Brees, whose story was first reported as part of NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune’s “A Fragile State” series, believes her mother, if given a second chance, would have chosen a different path. But suicide is often a rash decision made in moments of intense hopelessness and despair.


In a state with some of the least restrictive gun laws in the country, those moments are often armed, advocates say. Louisiana had 677 suicides in 2016. Of those, 440, or 65 percent, were by firearms.

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