Having achieved something close to mythic status in California pop culture, the state’s “5150” hold for people in psychiatric crisis is being looked at by national gun-control advocates and some experts as a way to get help for mass shooters before they open fire, reports the San Francisco Chronicle. Named for the section where it appears in California’s Welfare and Institutions Code, 5150 lets mental health professionals commit those deemed to be a danger to themselves or others to a care facility for as long as 72 hours.
If professionals believe a person requires more hospitalization, they can extend the stay for two weeks. Patients committed for that length of time are entitled to a hearing that allows them to argue for release. hospital admission in these circumstances triggers a report to the state’s Armed Prohibited Persons System. Those who have been detained on a 5150 hold cannot possess or own guns for five years, though the law permits them to petition to regain firearms rights. “It has worked,” said Lindsay Nichols of the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence in San Francisco. “There is demonstrable evidence that there’s something going on in California that’s helping to stop gun violence in a way that isn’t mirrored in most other states.”