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House OKs reporting mentally ill to FBI's criminal system

PIERRE — The state House of Representatives decided Thursday that South Dakota should become part of the national system for identifying people whose mental defects prohibit them from legally purchasing firearms in the United States.

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The vote was 53-17 in favor of the measure. It now heads to the Senate for consideration.

Rep. Timothy Johns, R-Lead, explained HB 1229. The retired judge said it was brought on behalf of the National Shooting Sports Federation and is supported by the National Rifle Association.

The purpose is to "fill the gap" regarding people who have been involuntarily committed and present a danger to their selves or others, Johns said. A board typically makes the determination.

Persons acquitted of a crime for reason of mental illness also would be reported.

The information is provided to the national instant criminal background system operated by the FBI.

The legislation establishes the process for reaching that determination and the process for a person to have her or his name removed from the system.

"This is not an anti-gun bill," Johns said.

Rep. Blaine Campbell, R-Rapid City, said he's never heard of anyone being removed from the list.

Campbell urged the legislation's defeat. He said the real goal for the legislation is that everyone be placed on the list.

Rep. Isaac Latterell, R-Tea, said South Dakota shouldn't be cooperating with "what I consider to be an unconstitutional part" of the federal government that keeps a national database.

Latterell said there could be better ways such as states keeping their own lists or using encryption passwords for the national database.