Crime Trackers

Jul 10, 2013 2:30 AM by Lupita Murillo

New gun law could arm prohibited possessors

TUCSON - A state lawmaker from Tucson plans to introduce a bill to close a loop hole that puts the public and law enforcement at risk.

The loop hole is in Title 36, which is a state law that allows for involuntary commitment for people with mental health issues.

If a judge agrees a person is a danger to themselves or others, the judge can order that person seek treatment, but only for up to a year. During that time that person can't possess a weapon either. Arizona Department of Public Safety makes note of that.

State Representative Victoria Steele says, DPS is not allowed to share that information with other law enforcement agencies."

DPS does forward that information to the FBI's National Instant Criminal background check System or NICS. So federal firearms licensed dealers such as Black

Weapons can know if a person wanting to buy a gun is a prohibited possessor or not.

Tommy Rompel has been in business 7 years.

Every customer wanting a weapon has to fill out a form. He then calls NICS for a background check.

However, Deputy Ryan Rhoer, who works traffic isn't able to check with NICS should he come up on a prohibitive possessor who has been declared by the courts to be mentally unstable. Deputy Rhoer feels that puts him at risk. "Anything that can help us do our job better and help us do it safer and help us keep the community safer is an asset."

Capt. Deanna Johnson agrees, especially when it comes to people retrieving weapons from the Sheriff's property and evidence unit. "We release that weapon to them, and then god forbid they go out and hurt someone with it."

State Representative Steele says it's a simple yes and no question when police look up a name or license plate. "We won't know if it's whether they have a mental health issue, we won't know if it's because they are a felon, or why? We'll know yes or no this person is allowed to have guns."
State Representative Steele plans to introduce legislation to close this loophole in the next session.

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