A new law makes California’s oversight over the booming guard industry one of the strongest in the country. Credit: Sarah Rice for Reveal

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 swalter@cironline.org. Follow her on Twitter: @shoeshine.

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Shoshana Walter was a senior reporter and producer at Reveal, covering the criminal justice and child welfare systems. She's working on a book for Simon & Schuster about the failures of our country's addiction treatment system. At Reveal, she reported on exploitative drug rehab programs that require participants to work without pay, armed security guards, and sex abuse and trafficking in the marijuana industry. Her reporting has prompted new laws, numerous class-action lawsuits and government investigations. Her stories have been named finalists for the Pulitzer Prize, Selden Ring and National Magazine Awards. She has also been honored with the Livingston Award for National Reporting, the IRE medal, the Edward R. Murrow award, the Knight Award for Public Service, a Loeb Award and Sigma Delta Chi Award for investigative reporting. Her Reveal podcast, "American Rehab," was named one of the best podcasts of the year by The New Yorker and The Atlantic and prompted a congressional investigation.

Walter began her career as a police reporter for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and previously covered violent crime and the politics of policing in Oakland, California, for The Bay Citizen. A graduate of Mount Holyoke College, she has been a Dart Center Ochberg fellow for journalism and trauma at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and a John Jay/Harry Frank Guggenheim fellow in criminal justice journalism. She is a fellow with the Watchdog Writers Group at the University of Missouri School of Journalism and is based in Oakland, California.