Courts do not comply with gun-ban notification law

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RENO (AP) - Northern Nevada courts are failing to comply with a new state gun-ban notification law, a Reno newspaper's investigation found.

The law requires all state courts to send records of people deemed by a judge to have a mental illness to the Nevada Department of Public Safety so they can be added to a national database of those prohibited from possessing firearms.

But few Nevada courts have complied with the law since it took effect Jan. 1, 2010, the Gazette-Journal reported Sunday.

Julie Butler, chief of records for the Department of Public Safety, said that as of mid-November, it had only received data from two state courts. Clark County District Court sent 472 names and White Pine County sent four.

Other rural courts and Washoe County had submitted no names, even though the department sent out notices when the law took effect and sent another reminder in May 2010.

"We need to do a better job on this," Butler said. "We need to regroup and get with the courts and figure out how to get the word out."

Craig Franden, acting administrator for the Washoe District Court, said the court was not aware of the new law until recently and is now working to meet the reporting requirements.

"We are currently working with the Administrative Office of the Courts to meet all the requirements," Franden said. "I'm being brought into it at a late state and will be following up on it."

Federal law prohibits a person found by a judge to have a mental illness from owning weapons. Gun dealers use the National Instant Criminal Background Check System database during background checks to ensure a buyer is not prohibited from possessing a firearm.

The 2009 Nevada Legislature passed a law requiring state courts to submit the information to the state so it could be added to that database.

The courts' failure to follow the law could be putting the public at risk, Washoe County Assistant Sheriff Marshall Emerson said.

"When a person is not lawfully allowed to purchase a firearm and his name is not entered on a list that is designed to prevent a sale of a firearm to that person, that's a concern for us in law enforcement and for public safety," he said.


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