SC Mental Health Gun Law Compliance Will Take Work - WSPA.com

SC Mental Health Gun Law Compliance Will Take Work

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Mental Health Files In Spartanburg County Mental Health Files In Spartanburg County
SPARTANBURG, S.C. -

South Carolina's new law aimed at improving the National Instant Criminal Background Check system for gun purchases began in August and it’s creating a lot of work for local courts.

The law prohibits people from buying a gun who are found mentally defective by a judge or committed for treatment.

To comply with the law, probate courts must dig through a 10-year history of paper files and fax in submissions to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Spartanburg’s court estimates it has 9,000 cases in the backlog. Greenville County told 7 On Your Side that it had an enormous backlog of 22,500 files.

The courts are dealing with limited resources already.

“I feel like we need two sets of eyes on it because I don’t want to report anyone who shouldn't be reported and I definitely don't want to miss anyone that should be reported,” Spartanburg Judge Ponda Caldwell said.

Caldwell was lucky enough to have a volunteer come forward that passed a SLED background check and signed a confidentiality agreement.

In Greenville, Probate Judge Debora Faulkner is going to have to hire an additional staff member.

Despite the new workload, Caldwell thinks the law is a huge improvement for the background check system.

“We want it as safe as possible and I think everyone can agree that someone that is mentally deficient does not need to have a gun,” she said.

SLED recently won a $900,000 Department of Justice grant for the improvement of the background check system.

Caldwell hopes some of that money can be used for SLED computers in every probate court. That could eliminate the use of paper files and faxing when updating the background check system.

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