Texas police often are powerless to keep weapons they have seized from people who have mental health issues, reports the Houston Chronicle. When Houston police officers respond to a call involving a mentally disturbed person, they sometimes find the suspect armed with the same gun they seized in an earlier incident. That’s because Texas law does not give police agencies the authority to keep a weapon they have seized from a person they are transporting for evaluation at a psychiatric treatment center.
State law only allows police to keep weapons used in the commission of a crime. Last year, Houston police had 27,000 calls involving residents with mental health problems and seized 47 firearms from January to July from persons taken for mental examination. In 2011, the 25,000 mental health calls handled by HPD included 90 individuals whose firearms were held while they were given an emergency psychiatric exam. Police Chief Charles McClelland wants the state legislature to require a judge to decide if those who have been referred for mental health treatment are qualified to possess a gun.