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Broken background checks

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SHREVEPORT, La. -

April 16, 2007, student Seung-Hoi Cho opens fire on the campus of Virginia Tech.  

By the time his rampage is over, 32 people are dead, 17 others wounded.  Cho takes his own life.  An investigation reveals Cho passed two gun background checks, even though a judge ruled he was mentally ill and needed treatment.  

Cho's mental illness should have prevented him from obtaining  a gun through legal channels.  Under the Federal Gun Control Act of 1968.

People who are considered a danger to themselves or others, have a diminished mental capacity or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, would not be allowed to buy a gun.  

So when a gun dealer ran Cho's name through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, better known as NICS, he should have been flagged and his gun sale denied.  

That didn't happen.  Although there is no federal law mandating it, the federal government pumped money to states, hoping they would beef up their reporting of people with mental illnesses.  But to date, Louisiana has only submitted two names.  

And officials aren't sure if they're real or just names used to test the system.  Last year in Caddo Parish alone, there were more than 5,000 involuntary commitments.  

Many are repeat patients.  So why aren't those names being included in the national database?  Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's office say current state law prohibits the state from reporting these names.  

But which law?  The Governor's office, State Supreme Court and a watch dog group that studied this problem, each cited a different state statute.  

The U.S. Supreme Court, the highest court in the land has already ruled that HIPPA, the law that prevents medical records from being publicly released, does not pertain to this issue.  

Last Friday, in the middle of our KTBS 3 investigation, the governor announced he would fix this broken background check.  

Despite the Governor's efforts there could still be some challenges out there.  For instance, the degree of mental illness to be included in NICS.  

Plus the governor wants the capability of removing names from the database, if doctors say the person is competent.

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