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Computer glitch temporarily kept mental-health data from background check system

SALT LAKE CITY — Criminal records for people declared mentally incompetent or committed to a mental health center were missing from state and federal gun databases for several months following a November 2017 computer glitch, state officials said.

Between November 2017 and March 2018, the state’s background check system wasn’t registering information on mental heath cases where a person is banned from having firearms. State courts spokesman Geoff Fattah said the glitch happened during a system update that November.

“We certainly don’t want this to happen because that information is vital information that needs to be included in the federal database,” he said.

Fattah said the state is not aware of any firearms purchases made by anyone who should have been listed as gun-restricted as a result of the database glitch. The problem since has been fixed, and safeguards have been put in place to prevent it from happening again, he said.

Lance Tyler with the Utah Bureau of Criminal Identification says it’s unlikely any gun-restricted person was able to buy a firearm in Utah because of the glitch, but there’s no way to know for sure. The glitch prevented updates to the databases for about a year, but state officials say very few cases were impacted during the downtime.