Hennepin County Sheriff voices concerns with gun access

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June 12, 2013
By: Gabrielle Martinson
Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek speaking Monday at a meeting of the 2nd Precinct Advisory Council
Gabrielle Martinson
Gabrielle Martinson
Stanek told members of the 2nd Precinct Advisory Council there are “gaping holes” in the nation’s background check system for gun carriers.

HOLLAND ­— Hennepin County Sheriff Rich Stanek spoke this week to the 2nd Precinct Advisory Council, or 2PAC, about major holes he sees in the background check system for gun carriers.

The citizens group invited Stanek as a guest at their Monday meeting to hear his ideas on improving the safety of Minneapolis. Stanek said gun access is a major safety issue for citizens both in Minnesota and across the nation.

“We have an access problem in this country,” Stanek said. “Primarily those with mental illnesses should never have access to a gun.”

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is used to check the eligibility of citizens applying for permits and purchasing firearms. Minnesota is one of 12 states to forward mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Because Minnesota started putting mental health records into the NICS database in 2010 and NICS was started in 1994, Stanek there are 67,000 mental health records that have not been submitted to NICS from the 16 years prior to 2010.

Stanek served as a member of the president’s working group for reducing gun violence, and said he, along with other sheriffs and police chiefs from states who suffered mass shootings in 2012, were able to voice their concerns with the background check system.

During the last state legislative session, bipartisan support was given to fund the entry of the 67,000 Minnesota mental health records that have been left unrecorded in the NICS system. The NICS Improvement Act, which requires state courts to submit mental health records to the system, was put into place in 2009, but was never funded.