With the recent mass shootings that have taken place, questions have been raised about tougher background checks in obtaining guns. Currently, the procedure to obtain a gun is divided into two categories. A long gun such as a rifle, AK-47, shotgun, etc. and a short gun such as a handgun which can be either semi-automatic or automatic.
For long guns, local sheriff offices do not get involved in background checks according to Worth County Sheriff Dan Fank.
Gun shop owners such as Dennis Spieker with Spiekers Sporting Goods in Garner have to follow specific guidelines when selling long guns.
For short guns, the local sheriff’s office is involved. Fank explains.
Where the qualification to obtain a gun may be circumvented is through sealing of a juvenile criminal history. If a juvenile is convicted of a crime before he or she reaches the age of 18, the case and the conviction can be sealed and then expunged from their criminal record once they turn 18. Fank explains what could happen from there.
Enter the psychological aspect. Under the current system, an applicant for a gun permit must sign a release of information according to Fank.
This means that the sheriff can ask if there have been psychological services provided in the past to the applicant. The response is either yes or no. If the check is done at one facility, such as a hospital, but the psychological service was done somewhere else, that service may not show up on the record. Also, if the applicant is suffering from a mental issue and has not sought medical attention, the record would not exist.
Prior to the current system, the sheriff’s office, in cooperation with the state, issued all gun permits. This allowed the department to work with the citizens of its county and to make judgment calls on the viability of an applicant based on reports and records.