Judiciary Committee Addressing Issues With Firearm Background Check System

Jun 5, 2019

Credit Federal Bureau of Investigation / Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Judiciary Committee is considering addressing issues with the state's inability to share mental health information with federal government as part of compliance in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Federally licensed gun retailers are required by law to perform a background check on a buyer before selling a firearm. There are several disqualifications to a firearm purchase, including certain mental health issues like if a person is a danger to themself or others.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Tara Nethercott said Wyoming currently doesn't provide the federal government with the needed information on residents' mental health issues for background checks. That's because the state doesn't have the framework to collect or share the information.

She said the firearm industry brought this issue to the state's attention because it wants better communication on the mental health information between states and the federal government.

"Being responsive to what that industry is seeking in order to be compliant with federal law, the committee decided to take that issue up," she said.

The committee decided at the interim meeting that they will look at amending a failed bill from 2014 that would have required state agencies to report and collect the mental health information required for background checks. They plan to discuss if that could potentially serve the state's needs in upcoming committee meetings.