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Proposed law would require checks on buyer's mental health

Federal law prohibits anyone who's ruled mentally defective from owning a gun.

But when gun shops in Wisconsin do background checks on buyers, they're never told about mental problems because state law keeps them secret.

That would change under a bill introduced Wednesday by state Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills.

The federal law also prohibits anyone committed to a mental institution from owning a firearm and the U.S. Justice Department reminded the states about that following the Virginia Tech massacre.

Despite what the law says, only 23 states have given their mental health information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Wisconsin does its own checks as well.

Under Darling's bill, judges would decide whether people could possess weapons under the law and those decisions would be relayed to the attorney general for its own background checks and for inclusion in the national database.