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]
A new legislation that would have required health care workers in Colorado to undergo a fingerprint background check has now been stopped dead in its tracks in the state's Senate committee. The bill was an effort by Democrats to disqualify convicted felons and known offenders from holding sensitive positions in [more]
Despite the industry's initial forecast of slower gun sales under president Trump's administration, the FBI background check data has now shown a surprising spike for gun sales last month. The number of background checks that were conducted last month only serves to prove that having a gun-friendly president will not [more]
In a rather unexpected turn of events, gun sales for the past few months have steadily been declining, despite Trump's win in the United States Presidential Elections. With a president that is strongly supportive of second amendment rights, gun sales should have increased seeing as that there is now fewer restrictions [more]
The controversy regarding the alleged failure of the FBI to properly run a background check, which allowed Dylan Roof to purchase a firearm, is apparently not over just yet. A judge has denied all of the motions to dismiss the case and has now allowed it to proceed. United States District [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.