- ISIL creates all-female brigade to terrorize women into following Sharia law
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- Obama to Latin leaders: Help with border
- Military bans troops from Baptist church event honoring ‘God’s Rescue Squad’
- ‘Pocket drones’: U.S. Army developing tiny surveillance tools for the next big war
- Belgian cafe posts sign: Dogs allowed, but Jews stay out
- Gen. Dempsey: Pentagon studying Russian readiness plans not viewed ‘for 20 years’
- John McCain: Botched, two-hour execution of murderer is ‘torture’
- House GOP ready to move border bill
- Bomb squad called after live WWII artillery washes on Cape Cod beach
Mental health record checks little-used
Only 15 states submit reports to national system
Question of the Day
Fifteen states have submitted fewer than 100 total mental health records to the federal government’s instant check system, marking what gun control advocates said is a major flaw in the system.
Since the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) became operational in 1998, the 15 lowest-performing states have reported fewer than 100 records between them, according to a new report from advocacy group Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
The spotlight has returned to mental health and gun crimes in the wake of a review this week that found the Sandy Hook shooter had mental problems, and after a man with mental health issues assaulted his politician father in a high-profile case in Virginia earlier this month.
“Everyone understands that mental health plays a role in some shootings,” said David Chipman, a former agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and former adviser to the mayors’ group. “It seems like there has been some progress made, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.”
Those 15 states are Alaska, Hawaii, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming.
The report found that of those 15 bottom-performing states, only Nebraska and North Dakota had laws that require or permit the records to be turned over.
Amid the disputes on guns, advocates on both sides of the issue generally agree that better medical documentation could flag people at risk of doing harm to themselves or others.
Those efforts got a boost this week after authorities in Connecticut released a report saying the shooter in Newtown last year, Adam Lanza, was obsessed with violence and mass shootings, and had easy access to guns that were legally purchased by his mother.
But the system can only take you so far, said John Hudak, a fellow in governance studies at the Brookings Institution.
“If Connecticut’s reporting of their mental health records was perfect, it wouldn’t have stopped what happened in Newtown,” Mr. Hudak said.
However, Mr. Hudak cautioned that gun violence remains a social problem that cannot be solved only in people’s homes or by better parenting.
Federally licensed gun dealers are required to perform NICS checks when they sell a gun. A bill to expand the required checks to private sales online and at gun shows failed earlier this year in the U.S. Senate, though a number of states have passed new gun control and background check laws in the wake of last year’s Connecticut school shootings.
Under the current NICS system, states voluntarily provide records to the federal government. The report, however, found that most of the 15 top-performing states received federal grant money from 2009 to 2012 to improve collection and submission of the relevant records.
Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Utah, Florida and Maine had the largest increases in reported records from October 2012 to May 2013. Florida also had the largest percent increase in mental health submissions over their previous total, jumping 82 percent from 49,903 to 90,824.
Virginia has been one of the most diligent in turning over records to the federal government, especially in the wake of reforms instituted after the Virginia Tech mass shooting in 2007.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at email@example.com.
- Half can't name political party of their member of Congress, poll finds
- Mich. congressman returns Commerce award after group endorses opponent
- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: 'Playing defense on the one-yard line'
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Far out: Astronauts testify from International Space Station
Latest Blog Entries
- Dick Cheney: Hillary Clinton 'clearly bears responsibility' on Benghazi
- Holder vows to press ahead on gun control fight
- Seven of 10 prefer that Obama work with Congress, not go around it: Poll
- Schumer: Tea party hasn't let Obama put his policies into effect
- GOP official: Black not running for Wolf's House seat
TWT Video Picks
President wants everyone but himself to pay more
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- 'Pocket drones': U.S. Army developing tiny spies for the next big war
- Ted Nugent loses second casino gig for 'racist remarks'
- ISTOOK: Obama wants to be impeached
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- Ohio university quiz implies atheists are naturally smarter than Christians
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- EDITORIAL: Obama's 'economic patriotism' means higher taxes
- Afghan who killed three U.S. Marines in 2012 to serve over 7-year prison sentence
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq