Health

Disturbing Report: Mentally Ill Easily Buying Guns

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

A disturbing new report finds that the mentally ill can still easily buy guns because most states are not forwarding mental health records to a federal database designed to weed out such firearm purchases.

The report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that 23 states submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check. In addition, 17 states sent fewer than 10 records and four states didn't submit any.

These paltry numbers come despite a law passed after the 2007 Virginia Tech shootings that encourages states to send mental health records to the background database. A bill is currently before Congress that would strengthen penalties against states that do not comply.

The federal government is no better, where 52 of 62 agencies have not submitted any mental health records to the database. The New York Daily News reports that the "vast majority" of mental health records from federal agencies came from one agency, the Department of Veterans Affairs.

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The numbers are similar for drug histories, which are also supposed to be submitted to the background database.

To illustrate how important this reporting is, accused Tucson shooter Jared Loughner was able to legally buy guns despite a history of drug use and mental illness. Had his records been submitted, he likely would have been denied the weapons and perhaps the shooting rampage that left six victims dead and several people injured including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords could have been avoided.