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Keeping guns from the insane

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A report by Pro Publica says that states have been lax about reporting the names of persons adjudicated as mentally defective to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. Citing Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence statistics, Pro Publica said Arizona, where a mentally unstable man killed shot six people and wounded 14, including critically-injured U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, had provided only 4,400 records out of a total of 121,700 to NICS.

Since 2007, according to the Arkansas Crime Information Center, the state has reported to NICS all people who have been determined by a court to be "mentally defective." The legislature enacted a law that year requiring all county and circuit court clerks to provide ACIC records of persons who've been committed or who have been found innocent of a crime by reason of insanity. The number: 1,479.

City Director Brad Cazort, who is the administrator of the Criminal History Division of the ACIC, says he believes the NICS reporting has kept guns out of the hands of some people in Arkansas.

Still, Arkansans who've been judged mentally defective can still buy guns, if an individual wants to sell to them. Sellers who hold federal firearms licenses, on the other hand, are required to run background checks. The State Police runs background checks on those who apply for concealed carry permits.


No room for the Times

n It may come as no surprise that the Times is not always on the best of terms with many a local politician. However, even in the most adversarial of times — like, say, during the Huckabee administration — we have enjoyed a designated parking spot at the state Capitol, much like every other news organization in town. Ours was the farthest away from the building, but it was ours nonetheless. Media parking spots, like everything else on the grounds of the Capitol, fall under the purview of the secretary of state's office. We found out last week, while covering inaugural festivities, that the current secretary of state, Mark Martin, feels the Times no longer deserves a space. A spokesperson for Martin said the spaces are "designated, by request, to mainstream media outlets." The Times was never notified of the need to make a request.


Brockovich revisited

n Chromium-6, the suspected carcinogen that was the subject of the movie "Erin Brockovich," has been found in municipal water supplies in 31 cities, so Central Arkansas Water is sending a sample of its water to a lab to be tested.

Water quality specialist Sharon Sweeney says she "seriously doubts" that the chromium-6, or will be detected "because our watersheds are so protected." That protection is by virtue of geology — chromium 6 occurs naturally in volcanic rock — and by the lack of industries locally that use the element.

The state Health Department treats for "total chromium," a measure of all types of chromium, but the test does not distinguish between types. Tests have not detected "total chromium" in CAW water, Sweeney said.

The Environmental Protection Agency, while finding that the chemical is "likely to be carcinogenic to humans," has not set a limit on chromium-6, but California's environmental agency is suggesting a voluntary limit of 0.02 parts per billion. Levels of 12 ppb were found in water in Norman, Okla.

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