Tennessee has the highest rate of gun purchase denials in the nation, according to a February report by the U.S. Department of Justice that is the focus of a Tennessean story.
In 2010, Tennessee rejected about 4.3 percent of gun buyers’ purchases based on state criminal background checks, according to the report — more than twice the national average of about 1.5 percent.
A majority of those who appeal their cases win, allowing them to eventually get a gun. Just like Armentrout did.
It’s a system that annoys both buyers and sellers and could become an even bigger headache if new federal efforts to require background checks for all gun sales are successful.
“I can’t even imagine how they’re even going to keep up with the processing,” Armentrout said. “They can barely keep up now.”
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, which conducts a $10 background check on all gun purchases from gun stores, acknowledges it has a high denial rate.
Kristin Helm, spokeswoman for the agency, said that its criminal background system, called the TBI Instant Check System, or TICS, is great for recording arrests but doesn’t always get updated as to the outcome of those cases.
“Missing dispositions has been an issue with criminal records; however, it has vastly improved over the last 10 years,” Helm said. “When an appeal is filed on a denied transaction, TICS staff diligently tracks down each record from clerks’ offices across the state to locate any missing information, which also updates the criminal history system.”
Beginning this spring, Tennesseans who apply for or renew driver’s licenses also are going to have their identities checked, reports the Chattanooga TFP.
Customers at driver service centers or county clerks’ offices will leave with paper “interim” licenses. Meanwhile, the state will take a week to run their pictures through photo-recognition technology and compare them against 12 million images in a database.
“It is compared to many other faces to make sure you are who you say you are,” said Lori Bullard, assistant commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security. “It has a measure of security.”
Bullard said the new process and extra security checks are meant to clamp down on fraud and identity theft. As another layer of security, drivers will receive their laminated plastic permanent driver’s licenses by mail instead of at the counter of a driver service center. That helps verify where the applicant lives, Bullard explained.
The new process, called “central issuance,” is being piloted at the Hamilton County Clerk’s Office, which has been authorized to replace and renew driver’s licenses since 2004. Equipment for the process was installed Thursday.
….The change is part of a five-year effort to restructure the license application process since Congress passed the Real ID Act — a 2005 law requiring stricter, uniform requirements for issuing driver’s licenses across the nation.
All states were required to be compliance with the law by Jan. 15. Tennessee had already bought equipment to implement Real ID and had begun conducting background checks for all clerks involved in issuing licenses.
But in December, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security once again extended the deadline — though it has not released a new schedule. Only 13 states, including Tennessee and Georgia, have met the standards of the law, according to The Associated Press, while others have balked at the costs to come into compliance.
New, tougher work search requirements haven’t resulted in many jobless Tennesseans being kicked off unemployment yet, reports The Tennessean.
Fewer than 800 people have lost their benefits because they did not look for work or provided no evidence that they did so as required, according to figures from the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. That’s just 6 percent of the more than 13,000 verification checks the agency has done in the past three months.
Supporters are calling the effort an early success despite the low violation rate, citing state estimates that it has saved taxpayers at least $185,000 so far.
“They’re changing their behavior because of the law, and that’s a good thing,” said Jim Brown, Tennessee director of the National Federation of Independent Business. “We’re making progress.”
It and other business groups pushed for the work search rule and other jobless-aid restrictions last year, saying changes were needed to improve accountability and combat fraud and abuse. Tennessee legislators and Gov. Bill Haslam agreed, enacting several measures that tightened eligibility criteria.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A proposal that would exempt handgun carry permit holders from background checks when they purchase a firearm has been delayed in the Senate.
The measure sponsored by Republican Sen. Steve Southerland of Morristown was scheduled for a Senate floor vote on Wednesday. But Southerland said he delayed the vote after the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation asked to discuss the bill.
He said he doesn’t know the reason for the request.
The companion bill is awaiting a vote in the House Judiciary Subcommittee.
Read SB0306 at http://capitol.tn.gov.
The state’s district attorneys are pushing for passage in 2012 of legislation that would require health care providers and pharmacists to check the state’s prescription drug database as a means of curbing abuse of painkiller drugs, reports the News Sentinel. A lobbyist for the state’s physician thinks that’s going too far.
“What we’ve got to do is make it harder to get these pills on the streets,” said John Gill, special counsel to the Knox County district attorney general. “The database is not nearly as effective as it can be.”
Doctors, privacy advocates and others say the proposals go too far.
“We may well have some reservations,” said Gary Zelizer, director of legislative affairs for the Tennessee Medical Association. “My personal opinion is that it’s overkill.”
The database, created five years ago and funded by state fees for health care providers, tracks prescriptions statewide for narcotics such as oxycodone and hydrocodone — the same drugs that police say now top crack cocaine and methamphetamine among abusers. State law requires doctors and others to log each prescription they write and pharmacists to log each prescription filled.
The law doesn’t require them to check those logs before writing or filling the prescription. The database recorded more than 13.7 million prescriptions last year, according to the most recently available statistics — and only 1.2 million checks for patient profiles.
Sen. Ken Yager, R-Harriman, has legislation pending on the subject. Yager says he expects there will be other bills filed to deal with the issue. A spokeswoman for Gov. Bill Haslam says the administration is considering “possible legislation” and will have more to say later.
See also the Shelbyville Times-Gazette story on the DAs efforts.
News release from Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN) – State Senator Ken Yager (R-Harriman) announced today that he will sponsor prescription drug abuse legislation in the 2012 legislative session to require doctors, pharmacists or their designees to check the state’s Controlled Substance Monitoring Database before prescribing or filling prescriptions for scheduled drugs. In addition, a separate bill being drafted by Senator Yager would require that anyone who picks up a prescription for a scheduled drug must show photo identification.
Yager was the sponsor of legislation passed in the 2011 legislative session that will go into effect January 1 cracking down on prescription drug abuse at pain clinics in Tennessee. That law required the Department of Health, in concert with the doctors, nurses and physician assistants, to establish rules to govern the operation of clinics, including personnel, patient records, data collection and reporting, inspections, health and safety requirement and patient billing.
Beginning 2012, no pain management clinic will be allowed to operate without a certificate from the Department of Health, which can deny one to an applicant who has committed a felony or a misdemeanor related to the distribution of illegal prescription drugs or a controlled substance.
“Tennessee ranks second in the nation in regard to the overutilization of prescription pain medications,” said Senator Yager. “It is important that we continue to take steps to address this huge health and public safety issue in our state. The current state database is under utilized and closure of this loophole will strengthen our fight against the tragic epidemic of prescription drug misuse.”
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