State lawmakers are being urged to make it harder for those with a mental illness to purchase firearms.

Under federal law, a person who has been involuntarily committed for mental health reasons cannot purchase a gun. However, Wisconsin law does not require background checks for firearms sales to look for that information on the buyer’s record.

Scott Gelzer of Milwaukee says that loophole allowed his son to purchase a handgun, which he later used to commit suicide. That was despite the fact that he’d been hospitalized as a danger to himself just a few months beforehand.

Legislation at the Capitol is designed to prevent similar purchases in the future, by adding mental commitment information to the database used for background checks.

However, Jeri Bonavia with the Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort warns the bill falls short, because it doesn’t change the rules for private firearms sales. She urged lawmakers during a hearing on Monday to also require background checks for any gun purchase, even if the sellers is not a licensed dealer.

The measure is being considered by a state Senate committee.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:11)


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