Idaho mental health records added to FBI gun check

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (AP) - Idaho has added mental health records to a national Federal Bureau of Investigations database, making it easier for background checks to discover if would-be gun owners have a history of mental illness.

Gun-store customers are required to fill out a questionnaire that asks about their legal status, criminal history and whether they have been committed to an institution for mental-health reasons or found mentally unfit by a court. Those answers are then compared against the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System to make sure the applicant is legally allowed to own a gun.

The Twin Falls Times-News reports (http://bit.ly/1jz8pHn) that until recently, Idaho turned over only a fraction of the state’s mental health records to the FBI - making it almost impossible to tell if someone was being honest about mental problems. Idaho was one of 17 states that submitted fewer than 10 records to the FBI of individuals prohibited from buying a gun for mental-health reasons, according to a 2012 report by the Government Accountability Office.

It’s the job of the Idaho State Police to send those records to the FBI. The state police started doing that in 2012, but a majority of the data was rejected because of data-entry problems and other incompatibilities between the two systems.

Today, the state police has switched systems and cleared out the backlog of old records, meaning it can help the FBI update the database with mental-health information as soon as new records are created.

Although mental health records account for 29 percent of the records in the background-check database, only 1.25 percent of denials are for mental health issues, according to the FBI.

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Information from: The Times-News, http://www.magicvalley.com

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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