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75% Of States Don't Check Gun Buyers For Mental Illness

| Filed under: Legal MattersPolitikBill ClintonMental Health


In wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook, many people in the nation are rethinking our gun laws.

Federal laws prohibit the sale of firearms to those declared mentally unfit by a court.

A while back, Bill Clinton, when he was President, wanted states to have to report mental health records (and those declared unfit) to the FBI.

The Supreme Court said that that shouldn't be mandatory, and that states can choose to report them if they want.

Most choose to not do the extra work, so only 12 states make up the majority of mental health records in the FBI database.

Congress’ General Accounting Office said:

"States increased the number of mental health records available for use during NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System] background checks from 200,000 in October 2004 to 1.2 million in October 2011. But this progress largely reflects the efforts of 12 states, and most states have made little or no progress in providing these records."

It isn't exactly known how much mental illness screening would prevent gun violence, but it certainly couldn't hurt.

The issue is states need to update their background check programs to include more data and better screening policies.

But that's a political issue, and needs support from people in power, like the governor.

Hopefully, better background checks will become a top priority and other states will follow the 12 who do report.

No matter how much or how little it helps, anything to stop the violence sounds like a step in the right direction.

[Image via Francois Polito/Wikimedia Commons.]

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