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Minnesota Legislature

Gun background check conformity (new law)

Published (5/29/2009)
By Mike Cook
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Minnesota will be in compliance with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, “NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.”

Sponsored by Rep. John Lesch (DFL-St. Paul) and Sen. Ken Kelash (DFL-Mpls), the law requires a court to ensure that information is transmitted as soon as possible to the federal system when it:

• commits a person under the civil commitment law as being mentally ill, developmentally disabled, mentally ill and dangerous or chemically dependent;

• determines in a criminal case that a person is incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of mental illness; or

• restores a person’s ability to possess a firearm.

This provision takes effect July 1, 2010, to give the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension time to incorporate the requirements into its computer system.

The law amends the delineation of those ineligible to possess firearms, and it allows a person to petition a court for the right to possess a firearm, if a previous judicial determination found them to be mentally ill, developmentally disabled, mentally ill and dangerous or chemically dependent. A court can consider evidence from a doctor or clinical psychologist that the person no longer suffers from the disease or it has been successfully treated for at least three years. This section is effective Aug. 1, 2009.

The federal government will make money available for the state to input data into the system; however, it is contingent on legislative approval of program acceptance.

HF954/SF722*/CH139

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