Texas House passes bill making it easier to look at mental health court records of gun buyers under 21

AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas.com) – Ten days after the deadly mass shooting in Allen, State Representative Jeff…

AUSTIN (CBSNewsTexas.com) – Ten days after the deadly mass shooting in Allen, State Representative Jeff Leach, R-Allen urged lawmakers on the House floor to pass a bill that will allow the state to comply with a new federal law.

It passed after the massacre in Uvalde.

Leach said it will help keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. “This bill will go a long way to ensuring that our state databases, our state and federal databases are linked and that the process is more efficient and effective in keeping firearms out of the hands of dangerous Texans who do not need to have them.”

Under the federal law, investigators must check to see if 18-to-20-year old’s have anything in their mental health histories that should prevent them from buying a gun.

Authorities are looking for anyone 16 or older who had court-ordered mental health services.

The problem in Texas is that any court records involving a juvenile’s mental health are not kept in a centralized location.

Instead, they’re maintained in 450 district and county clerks’ offices across the state, and the FBI needs to check records at each of them when approving 18-to-20-year-olds who are attempting to buy firearms from a licensed dealer.

The bill requires court clerks to report this information to Texas DPS, which sends it to the national instant criminal background check system or NICS.

The legislation received bipartisan support. The final House vote will come Wednesday. The State Senate passed it on March 8.

At the time, the author of the bill, Senator Joan Huffman, R-Houston said, “This bill is on the emergency call for the Governor as it will indirectly of course directly in some cases affect school safety. It’s an important bill.”

But State Senator Roland Gutierrez, D-San Antonio, whose district includes Uvalde, pointed out that this bill wouldn’t have identified the gunmen at Robb Elementary School and in the deadly Santa Fe High School mass shooting in 2018 because they didn’t have juvenile records. 

He told Huffman, “First off, I applaud you on this, but this is not a foolproof, really nothing is, is it?” 

She responded, “I don’t think anything is foolproof.”

The bill will go to Governor Greg Abbott to sign. 

It will go into effect Sept. 1 and will apply to all records created before then.

Supporters say this bill is not a red flag law and doesn’t create any new gun reform legislation in Texas.