"Our system is really pretty much state-of-the-art," she said.
When a person in West Virginia is committed to a mental health facility involuntarily through a mental hygiene petition, that information is transmitted to the FBI within 72 hours, Artimez said. "Except for that initial entry, it's all automatic," she said.
When someone buys a gun through a licensed gun dealer, they are required to fill out a form and answer a list of questions that includes whether they have been convicted of a crime, are the subject of a domestic violence petition or have been found mentally unable to own a gun. The licensed dealer, who has a federal firearms license or FFL, is then required to contact the FBI call center in Clarksburg, which conducts a background check on the purchaser.
Even if the gun buyer lied on the form, the background check should show whether the buyer has a criminal record or a history of mental health problems. "If they're in the system, and they've been involuntarily committed [to a mental health facility], that would prohibit them from buying a gun from that FFL," Artimez said.
Since 2009, West Virginia has reported more than 10,000 people with mental health problems who should not own a gun to the FBI, Artimez said.
But even if a person with a history of mental health problems bought a gun legally before they were institutionalized, bought the gun at a gun show or got the gun illegally, a mental health finding would still automatically bar them from legally keeping the weapon, Sparks said.
Sparks said additional charges may be filed against Maynard for illegally owning a gun, or charges may be referred for federal prosecution, where penalties are stiffer.
Reach Rusty Marks at rustyma...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.