A law passed in Tennessee three years ago designed to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill is not being followed by many counties in Tennessee.
The law says that when a person is involuntarily committed to a mental health facility by a judge, a record of the court proceeding is supposed to be forwarded to the FBI. That information is supposed to show up when a gun seller runs a background check.
WSMV discovered that an unknown number of counties are not forwarding those court records to the FBI as the law requires.
Officials at the Tennessee Administrative Office of the Courts said that there are only five counties they are certain are submitting committal records required by the law: Shelby, Davidson, Hamilton, Hardeman and Wilson counties.
The AOC said they don't have exact figures, but they speculate that 25 or 30 counties are not supplying the records to the FBI.
There are several reasons, according to Elizabeth Sykes of the AOC. Some counties aren't equipped to transmit the information in the electronic format the FBI requires.
Some counties don't do judicial committals because there is no mental health institution in their county.
Davidson County submits its committal records electronically four times a year.
"I think it's a good tool," said Davidson County Circuit Court Clerk Richard Rooker.
Rooker's office turned 4,517 names over to the FBI since the law took effect in 2010.
"I think here in Davidson County, the system is working very well," he said.
Under a proposed change the General Assembly is now debating, the Administrative Office of Courts would take responsibility for seeing that all involuntary committals are reported to the FBI.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Tuesday, September 2 2014 7:39 PM EDT2014-09-02 23:39:10 GMT
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