The Free Press, Mankato, MN


January 26, 2013

Our View: Move quickly on background check reforms

Proposed reforms in the state’s gun background check and mental health systems by a coalition of law enforcement, judges, prosecutors and legislators should be taken seriously and moved on quickly.

The group urged lawmakers at a press conference Wednesday to overhaul the state’s background check system to close gaping holes tracking the mentally ill and to reform the way the state, the courts and law enforcement deal with the mentally ill.

Hennepin County Sheriff Rick Stanek described the system as one where the mentally ill are lost in the system and end up being sent to jail instead of treatment, which actually makes their condition worse. He described it as a “public health issue and a public safety issue.”

The proposals were largely in response to a Star Tribune article last Sunday that showed a man convicted of murder and deemed mentally ill and dangerous by the state was able to buy some 13 weapons, some purchased legally with a valid permit.

The proposals would improve the BCA background check system requiring criminal conviction records be sent to the BCA within 24 hours. Gov. Mark Dayton’s budget allocates $11 million over the next four years to overhaul the BCA database.

That idea is a no brainer and can be worked on immediately.

The group also proposed several reforms for dealing with the mentally ill. Hennepin County Judge Jay Quam who oversees the county Mental Commitment Court said he sees the mentally ill wasting away throughout the system because of delays and those deemed mentally ill are often sent back to jail before treatment and their condition deteriorates.

The group proposes streamlining the mental competency procedures in court so those in need of treatment don’t spend weeks in custody waiting for it.

The group also proposed changing Minnesota’s civil commitment procedure from one where the mentally ill must be considered a danger to themselves and others to a “need-for-treatment” model adopted in 27 other states.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
  • Spear smile.jpg Spear column: Hoffner case tested first and right rules

    The biggest news stories carry the biggest risk

    April 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • SCC leads the way on work ed The importance of higher education has never been more pronounced than with the changes occurring in our economy, especially in manufacturing. Bloomberg News noted that manufacturing accounts for 80 percent of our exports and for every one high-tech

    April 20, 2014

  • Our View: Y helps kids with skatepark Thumbs up to the YMCA and supporters working quickly to open an interim roller sport park. When fire destroyed Chesley Roller Sports Park in February, the Y made the commitment to rebuild it this summer and fall. But the Y also moved to give skateboa

    April 19, 2014

  • Our View: Make course evaluations public There's been a considerable and legitimate debate over the years about whether students at a public university should have access to teacher and course evaluations. Whenever there is a legitimate debate, it's hard to be in favor of less information a

    April 18, 2014

  • Our View: Drawing the line after Ukraine Why it matters: Tensions are ramping up once more as Russia tries to dictate to Ukraine.

    April 17, 2014

  • Our View: Costs key in health care access While more uninsured got coverage, costs must be controlled to sustain programs

    April 16, 2014

  • Our View: Saving lives trumps booking drug users Changes to the drug laws would save lives of those who overdose

    April 15, 2014

  • Pay attention! Distraction a problem A few years ago safety experts focused heavily on the dangers of people talking on cellphones while driving. Some states passed laws prohibiting the use of hand-held phones in cars as a result. Today much attention is on motorists typing on tiny hand

    April 14, 2014

  • DEBATE MEDICAL MARIJUANA When Minnesota lawmakers return from their spring break, one of the issues they may face is medical marijuana. This has been kicked around too many times. We feel it deserves to be pushed from committee and debated on the floor. The issue has been tr

    April 13, 2014

  • Our View: Cities saved on garbage collection Mankato and North Mankato saved their taxpayers money by bidding on garbage service

    April 12, 2014