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Gun glitch: Nevada’s failure to focus on the mentally ill points to a larger problem

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In July, a Reno police sergeant sold a gun to a mentally ill man. By itself, that story would be cause enough for alarm. But now, thanks to an investigation by the Reno Gazette-Journal, we learn that thousands of others with mental illness could easily obtain weapons, because nearly 2,000 guardianship cases in Nevada involving individuals with mental illness were not added to the National Instant Background Check System.

That system is far from perfect; the FBI says that in the last decade, background checks have led to gun purchase denials only 0.7 percent of the time. But a look at some of the Nevada guardianship cases that fell through the cracks—a woman who wanted to kill her daughter-in-law, a man with dozens of arrests for assault, a student arrested twice this year for violence at school—shows just how important it is that the appropriate cases make it into the database.

Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto has promised swift action. Let’s hope it comes before a preventable tragedy does.

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Weekly's associate editor, having previously served as assistant features editor at the Las Vegas Sun ...

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