It isn't clear just yet if the threat of impending nuclear war has something to do with it, but US citizens seem to continually be arming themselves. The latest figures from the NICS background check system, which was recently posted by the FBI, shows that August has set yet another [more]
A state representative in Upper Peninsula of Michigan has just introduced a controversial new bill that has ignited conversations amongst residents. The new bill will essentially allow legal firearm owners with concealed carry permits to take their guns in previously gun-free zones such as schools and other establishments. The proposal [more]
With the prominence of social media and online services, tourists are now becoming more comfortable using online marketplaces for their travel plans. Airbnb is one such service that is becoming quite popular here in the country. In fact, Americans are spending millions of dollars within the app itself as staying [more]
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has now called all Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) and interested parties to join its upcoming event that will include several useful resources and presentations pertaining to licensing and gun ownership. The event called the "NICS Retailer Day" will be held on July 25 at [more]
Florida state officials have just announced that thousands of Florida residents who currently possess firearm concealed carry permits may have just had their information compromised. Thousands of names of holders and hundreds of Social Security numbers were reportedly stolen by hackers. The data breach was initiated through the online payment system [more]
The state of Arizona has passed a brand new State Bill, which is obviously aimed at Tucson city's stubborn stance on firearm background checks. The new law is specifically targeting the private sale of guns amongst citizens. A city ordinance that required background checks for gun sales was passed more [more]
After the mass shooting in Aurora, Colorado, it is now obvious that regardless of whether people underwent all the necessary criminal background checks when purchasing firearms in this country, the guns still make their way to mentally unstable individuals. This is because, screening for mental health and mental instability is voluntary at best. Although currently, everyone is still capable of buying their guns, through private sales and gun shows without undergoing any sort of checks whatsoever.
The law only requires checks when guns are purchased from federally licensed firearm dealers (FFLs), those who are not engaged in the industry or those people who are not dealers skip the screening process completely. A private study shows that privately sold firearms account for forty percent of all gun sales within the United States.
The specific disqualifications associated with mental health are very narrow. Under federal law, a person is prohibited from buying or possessing firearms if they have been “adjudicated as a mental defective” or “committed to a mental institution.” There is no guarantee, however, that a formal record of adjudication or involuntary commitment will find its way into the NICS database. Often disqualifying mental health records go unreported by the states. In Colorado, for instance, no more than one percent of people that have disqualifying mental health histories are actually reported to NICS.
Another issue is that few Americans being affected by serious mental illness ever come into contact with the “system” or receive treatment for their condition(s). According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), approximately ten percent of children and adolescents are afflicted by mental illnesses. Yet only twenty percent of the group are actually diagnosed and are receiving services. Looking at adults, approximately one out of 17 are experiencing a serious mental disorder such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder. Yet less than one third receive mental health services.
Several states have enacted laws that may serve as models for federal legislators. California, for instance, has a graduated method of tackling the problem, by prohibiting the buying and possession of firearms by people who:
The point is that it has been almost 45 years since legislators defined mental health disqualifications for buyers in the Gun Control Act of 1968 and it may be time to find other solutions. Perhaps in providing law enforcement officials and health care professionals with the proper tools along with a more broad policy of background checking for gun sales will certainly lead to a safer home for us all.