Nev. courts checked for gun-database compliance
RENO (AP) — The chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a statewide review to determine whether courts are reporting names of mentally ill people to a gun-ownership blacklist.
Also, the state attorney general said Thursday that her office will reach out to courts to ensure compliance with the reporting laws as a matter of public safety.
Chief Justice Kris Pickering asked State Court Administrator Robin Sweet on Wednesday to start the review, and officials said they were working to notify the courts Thursday, Supreme Court spokesman Bill Gang said.
The instructions come in light of a Reno Gazette-Journal investigation into a state database for background checks, he said.
A 2010 law requires courts to notify the Nevada Department of Public Safety if someone is found to “lack the mental capacity to contract or manage his or her own affairs.” However, the newspaper found Las Vegas courts failed to forward more than 2,400 names, and Washoe District Court failed to report 179.
Attorney General Catherine Cortez Mastro said Thursday she welcomed the review and stood ready to assist.
“This is matter of concern for public safety and law enforcement operations,” she said in a statement.
“We will reach out to courts in Nevada to inquire whether they are complying with the law. We must work together to reduce gun violence in Nevada.”
Las Vegas court spokeswoman Maryann Price said the 2,410 cases there date from January 2010 to the present.
She told the newspaper a new procedure was being put in place immediately to meet the requirement of the law.
Price said the court is already in the process of sending the cases to the Department of Public Safety.
State officials have not said whether they have a system to determine whether any of the people who were left out of the database actually bought a gun, and if so, how to get the gun back.
Julie Butler, administrator for the public safety division that oversees the database, said her agency does not keep the background-check forms of people who pass the check, so it could not review those documents to see if any of the prohibited people made a gun purchase.
Mindy McKay, a spokesman for that agency, said state law prohibits it from releasing any database information.
The newspaper review of the court reports started after a mentally ill man bought a gun from a former Reno police sergeant in July.
The purchaser had not been entered into the background-check database, even though a judge had ordered him mentally ill and under a guardianship.
That case remains under investigation.