Well-enough alone

March 24, 2013 

It is strange that state legislators are even considering a bill to take responsibility for mental health checks on those applying for concealed weapon permits away from county sheriffs. Instead, the measure would just leave everything to the standard federal instant background check that applies to all. The objection to the sheriffs having a role seems to be claims that some do things differently than others and that they can be arbitrary in how they go about the checks.

But Attorney General Roy Cooper rightly notes that sheriffs can request medical records, character affidavits, photo identification and other information that might be valuable in assesing the mental health of someone about whom they had doubts.

Cooper says, therefore, that the sheriffs should retain their responsibility, which is a good safety check. He correctly says sheriffs know their communities best, and so would have an idea of what background checks might be needed and could be more thorough than the federal instant check.

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