Columbia, SC (WLTX) – Because of a new law, SLED has been able to revoke 65 concealed weapons permits and denied 12 applications from individuals that are mentally ill by our states courts.
"Those folks that have been committed or adjudicated as mentally defective are being denied they are being denied the right to purchase a firearm and they are being denied their CWP as well," said SLED Chief Mark Keel.
Keel says around the country there have been several murders that involve those with mental illnesses. He believes this law can help make sure that doesn't happen in our state.
"I think from the evidence that we are seeing the denying of concealed weapons permits, the revocations of the 65 so far, the handgun and firearms purchases that have been denied, I think that is evidence that the law that was passes is doing what it was intended to do and that is to try and make sure that the public is safe."
For years the mental health information was sealed by courts meaning SLED could not access that private information.
But now, the law allows SLED to see that information but only when it pertains to concealed weapons or gun sales.
"These laws have existed since the 60's and went all the way into the 21st century and most states were not reporting. But in the wake of Virginia Tech in 2007 a lot of states began reporting the names of those who have been involuntarily committed or so called mental health adjudications," said Mark Binkley, Spokesperson for the state Department of Mental Health.
Binkley says the law defines "mentally Defective" as someone who was found not competent to stand trial or someone who was found not guilty for reason of insanity.
The law also applies to those who have been involuntarily committed meaning they have broken no laws but have still been deemed mentally ill.
"The courts have to go back ten years and so as we continue to get these orders in from the probate court and we enter them into our database and our database is cross references with our CWP database obviously we anticipate that we will see some increase but I don't anticipate any huge increase," said Keel.
There are some instances that the law does not cover, like private sellers or those that sell guns at gun shows,Binkley says gun show dealers do not have to use the national database like SLED or licensed dealers at stores. That means guns could in fact fall into the hands of those who are mentally ill or even have a criminal background.