Federal law already prohibits those with a criminal record from obtaining firearms, but a newly passed law in New York aims to expand that to include people who had had domestic violence convictions. The new bill, which New York lawmakers have just recently approved along with the state’s new budget, [more]
Ever since the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas, where the shooter used a bump stock-equipped rifle to kill 58 people, the particular accessory has been under scrutiny. Now, President Donald Trump has announced that he will be banning the buying and selling of the gun accessory to finally end the [more]
Several youth groups, including those formed by students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, have started to rally in different locations across the country in an effort to stress the importance of gun control. A group called Teens for Gun Reform, which was organized by students through Facebook staged [more]
The FBI has recently released the official FBI NICS Background Check data for January 2018 and it looks like the country's gun sales are continuing its steady decline. According to the recently published data, estimated firearms sales last month fell by 8 percent. Dealers across the country managed to process [more]
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has reportedly sent a request for agents of the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms and Explosives to retrieve more than 4,000 firearms that were purchased last year. The guns to be confiscated are from owners who should have been prohibited from acquiring them in the [more]
The United States Air Force has announced that it has already launched an investigation to find out why the criminal records for Devin Patrick Kelly, the shooter who killed 26 church-goers in Sutherland Springs, weren't forwarded to the FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System. According to application forms acquired [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.