Gun Background Checks Miss Millions of Mentally Ill
Many states don't share mental-health records with FBI
By Kevin Spak, Newser User
Posted Dec 21, 2012 9:23 AM CST
Atlas Tactical co-owner/operator Brooke Stallings handles an assault rifle that is for sale in her shop near Newport, Va. on Tuesday Dec. 18 2012.   (AP Photo/The Roanoke Times, Matt Gentry)

(Newser) – Millions of mentally ill people could pass a gun background check today, because many states simply don't bother submitting mental-health records to the FBI, according to reports today in both the New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Thanks to a 1997 Supreme Court ruling, states don't have to share their records, and various costs and legal hurdles make opting out an attractive option. The vast majority of records come from just 12 states, with 19 states providing fewer than 100 records; Rhode Island has shared none.

There are gaps in the record for other prohibited buyers as well, including people with histories of drug use or domestic violence. And if an FBI background check takes longer than three days, dealers are free to make the sale, and many do. Since 2005, 22,162 guns have been sold to people later determined to be disqualified, but the underfunded ATF tracks such buyers down infrequently. "The background check system still looks like Swiss cheese," says the head of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

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Showing 3 of 27 comments
Dec 21, 2012 9:18 PM CST
Then FOOOOKIN' fix it. NRA has called for EXACTLY these records to be included, but congress and the courts WON'T.
Dec 21, 2012 7:52 PM CST
OK here's a sensible place to start. Lets fix the holes in the ATF and FBI systems so that unqualified buyers DON'T get through.And start tracking down unqualified people who actually got guns and take those back. lets fund ATF the way it's supposed to be funded so it can do its job as intended. THEN we can move on to other measures.
Dec 21, 2012 6:45 PM CST
I do believe that AIDS from gays kill many more people than the mentally ill with guns ever do, and if people want to stop people from being killed, they should start removing gays from society. -- LOGIC? -- I'm not speaking as anti-gay, just telling the facts. --- It's not the AIDS by itself that kills people, like guns, it's the people using their weapons irresponsibly. --- Lock up the gays, and the insane, before taking guns from the sane. -------- REALLY