Saturday, September 23

For gun checks, mental health records can still be a blind spot

  • Mental health records can prevent someone from legally purchasing a firearm
  • New Hampshire, Montana and Wyoming are the three states that don’t report into the system
  • Hardline gun rights groups have fought state action alongside mental health advocates

Federal officials say the FBI’s database of people prohibited from purchasing firearms only works if it has “complete, accurate and timely information.”

Mental health records are a key prong in the system. But three states – New Hampshire, Montana and Wyoming – still refuse to submit them.

As US Senators iron out gun reform initiatives, many Republicans like Sen. John Cornyn of Texas have repeatedly pointed to legislation that stops people with criminal records or mental health challenges from obtaining firearms.

Cornyn backed a 2018 bill that sought to shore up the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, in the wake of a Texas church shooting that left 27 dead. The fatalities included the gunman, an Air Force airman, whose criminal records that would have barred him from purchasing guns had not been submitted to NICS.

“For years, agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said while celebrating the “Fix NICS” solutions that pushed for faster and more accurate submissions. “Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy.”

President Donald Trump signed that bill, which has pumped $615 million into states to close loopholes and shore up reporting into the FBI’s system.

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