Idaho's mental health records now sync with FBI database for gun checks

MERIDIAN, Idaho (KBOI) - Mental health records from Idaho courts are now transmitted to a national database. Those records are referenced as part of background checks before gun purchases.

States were supposed to start submitting mental health information to the FBI in 2009, but in the Gem State, that didn't happen properly until just last year.

Idaho State Police began sending the data in 2012, but the FBI only accepted a small percentage of the records because of the different systems the two agencies used.

"If somebody has a very violent mental background, then yea, I wouldn't want to see them with a gun," said Jill Christensen, who supports the background checks for mental health.

A federal grant paid for technology to sort out the problem and sync up the systems.

At Benny's Pawn Shop in Meridian, owner Terry Stewart says the forms needed to buy a gun have gotten longer over the years, but they do ask a question about mental health. Stewart says it's about time the FBI had access to mental health information.

"That should've been done a long time ago," he said. "It's part of the form, and if you want the federal government to make an educated assumption of whether or not that person can own a firearm, they need that information."

Stewart said at his pawn shop, hundreds of people are approved each year through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, but four or five each year do not pass.

"If they're crazy, they don't deserve to have a gun," Stewart said.

People who've been committed to a mental institution would now fail the check and could not purchase a firearm.