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Background checks stop the mentally ill from purchasing guns in SC

HandgunSouth Carolina state agents say 136 people have been stopped from buying guns because a background check showed they had been ruled mentally incompetent by a court.

The State Law Enforcement Division said agents have also rescinded 132 concealed weapons permits from those ruled mentally incompetent.

A state law passed in 2013 requires probate courts to report all cases when a judge deems a person mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to a mental health facility. The information is routed to a federal database. Those in the database are not allowed to purchase a firearm. The report includes names of individuals from the last 10 years. State courts gave officials until August to submit its past decade’s records

The law was prompted by the arrest of a woman with a documented history of mental illness. In 2005, she was accused of threatening the president. Charges were later dropped because she was deemed mentally incompetent. She was ordered to undergo treatment. Then, in February of 2013, she was taken into custody for carrying a gun at a Charleston school. She had pointed a .22-caliber hand gun at a school administrator but the gun did not fire because the ammunition was not loaded properly.

Since the law went into effect nearly 46,000 entries have been submitted by the State Law Enforcement Division to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s national database. The database is used to conduct background checks for gun purchases.

A total of 21 out of state gun purchases were prevented and more than 100 concealed weapons permits were terminated.

South Carolina Representative, Leon Stavrinakis of Charleston who co-authored and sponsored the law, said it was satisfying to hear so many possibly unstable people that would be purchasing weapons were stopped.

The head of the South Carolina’s chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, Erin Dando, said the state’s success in submitting the mental health records into the federal database should serve as a model to other states.

It is estimated that five to 10 people interested in purchasing a firearm are turned down every week in the city of Ladson because of background checks. Shop owners are not aware of the circumstances of why a person is turned down. The database only states a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ when a name is run through the system.

Records of every individual considered mentally incompetent by a court are not submitted to the database by every state. The law cannot and is not intended to stop an individual from purchasing a gun for exhibiting signs of a mental illness; a person must be deemed insane or have been committed.

County probate courts in the state have worked aggressively to make sure all of their cases were submitted to the State Law Enforcement Division before the mandatory deadline.

A total of 6,800 records dating back to 2003 have been submitted by Charleston County. It will continue to send records as new cases arise.

Charleston has about 23 cases per week in which individuals are found to be mentally ill, preventing them from purchasing firearms.

Criminal background check policy results in class action lawsuit

GavelLawyers in Washington, D.C. filed a class-action lawsuit on July 30 against the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

The suit, on behalf of nine men, says criminal background screening policies for employees unfairly discriminate against black workers. [Read more...]

Mississippi to decide if gubernatorial pardon includes expungement

Scales of JusticeGovernors don’t hand out many pardons to convicted criminals, especially when their charges involve the manufacturing of methamphetamine. Be that as it may, Governor Haley Barbour granted a pardon to a few dozen individuals in 2012, including one Ms. Rebecca Hentz. [Read more...]

New Alabama law lets you expunge arrest records

Erase CrimeIf you’ve ever been arrested or charged with a crime, but were acquitted after the fact or had the charge dismissed, you know how difficult it can be to get a job when you must answer the question, “Have you ever been arrested?” in the affirmative. In Alabama, you’ve always had the option to petition the court for expungement of an arrest, but the courts were inconsistent in how they responded to the requests.

On July 7, 2014, a new law goes into effect with clear guidelines on how you can get your criminal charges expunged. [Read more...]

Does legal marijuana mean more business for DUI defense attorneys?

Police lineWashington State has notified permit holders that they can finally open their retail marijuana stores. There is a required waiting period that lets store owners open 24 hours after they place their orders for product. So, we can expect the first marijuana shops to be opening in the state as soon as tomorrow (Tuesday). [Read more...]

New Jersey bill would give job seekers prior convictions a fair chance

Background Check RequestA bill in New Jersey that provides job seekers who have made past transgressions the opportunity to fare better in the job market just needs the Governor’s signature to become law. It is no secret that for ex-convicts and those with a criminal record, securing stable employment after having been in jail or after committing a crime can be quite difficult. Thanks to the sponsor of the bill, Sen. Sandra Cunningham, ex-convicts looking to better their lives may find their job search much easier. [Read more...]

Nevada has to cope with a whole lot of missing criminal records data

HandcuffsSo, what happens when a study finds that nearly 1,000,000 documents related to criminal records have gone missing? Carson City, Nevada is about to find out. According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, a recent study found that there have been over 800,000 criminal cases, going back as far as 20 years that various law enforcement outfits failed to properly forward to the state offices tasked with putting them into the public records database. [Read more...]

New York to give children’s organizations access to federal databases

Background Check RequestChildren’s organizations, such as the Boy Scouts, are now pushing for laws in New York City that would allow them better access to criminal background information for potential staffers and employees. Sen. Charles Schumer is the one proposing the legislation, which would allow such organizations to access federal criminal and other databases to fully evaluate the risk of a potential new hire. [Read more...]

New York resident unwittingly finds himself on renter blacklist

DeniedImagine the following scenario: You’re a doctorate student of 28 years old, with years of rental history under your belt. You’re smart about your payment schedule and you keep your debts in control. One day, it comes time to move and you’re looking for another apartment to begin the next chapter of your life in. You look around, and settle on a lovely apartment, and begin on the paper work. Part way through the process, however, you get a call to let you know that your application has been denied, and won’t be moved forward. You inquire as to the reason, and the answer shocks you: You’re on the city’s “renter blacklist,” and you’re going to have trouble finding anyone to rent you a property. [Read more...]

California bills will help young offenders leave the past behind

Sealed RecordsRight now in California, Democrat Governor Jerry Brown is carrying with him a couple of interesting bills that will no doubt come to a vote in the house within the next couple of months. The first, and the one with the most potential for impact, is SB1198, and it’s aimed at helping youth who commit crimes move on from their old ways. [Read more...]