Va. Tech Probe Points to Privacy Laws

Muddled regs impede information flow; House OKs gun-control bill
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2007 12:15 PM CDT
A stone painted with the names of the Virginia Tech shooting victims is seen on the Drill field by the makeshift memorial on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg, Va., Wednesday, June 13, 2007. Schools,...   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – A tangle of privacy laws helps prevent officials from sharing vital info about mentally ill individuals who may be dangerous, making it possible for them to buy handguns—and setting the stage for incidents like the Virginia Tech massacre. Greater awareness of the leeway officials have when safety is a concern could improve record-sharing, a high-level federal report says.

The cabinet-level report zeros in on law enforcement, medical authorities, and school officials, the Washington Post says; President Bush released a statement yesterday saying communication "must improve." Meanwhile, the House yesterday approved an NRA-backed bill to improve national background checks on gun purchases. The Senate is expected to pass the legislation, the first major gun-control measure in over a decade.