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Gun background check database missing files on thousands with mental illness

RENO — Nevada has failed to send almost 2,000 guardianship cases involving people with mental illnesses to be entered into a database of residents not allowed to have firearms, a state official said.

Court administrator Robin Sweet completed a statewide audit of the cases last week after the Reno Gazette-Journal reported in August that hundreds of cases in Washoe County alone had failed to be entered in the National Instant Background Check System since 2010.

The newspaper said it reviewed 274 Washoe County cases identified in the new audit and found many people involved were considered violent. They included a woman who wanted to kill her daughter-in-law, a man arrested dozens of times for assaults, and a student arrested twice this year for school violence and once for attacking his mother.

Nevada courts are required by law to send guardianship records to the Department of Public Safety so they can be added to the background check system used during gun sales. But the Gazette-Journal discovered while reporting on a Reno police sergeant who sold a private gun to a mentally ill man that a glitch caused the courts to miss these cases.

In response to the newspaper report this summer, the chief justice of the Nevada Supreme Court ordered a statewide review.

Sweet’s audit found a total of 1,945 cases had been missed. That includes an updated review of 1,422 Clark County cases, 416 Washoe County cases, 53 Carson City cases, 27 Churchill County cases and 7 Lyon County cases.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said she’s working with the courts to make sure the mistakes don’t happen again.

“This is a matter of concern for public safety and law enforcement operations, which is why I am working with the courts,” Masto said. “We must work together to reduce gun violence in Nevada.”

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