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]
San Antonio, Texas - Ride share drivers for companies such as Uber and Lyft are now being given additional incentives to comply with criminal background checks that were made optional late last year. To entice drivers to undergo fingerprint checks, the city has launched a new program that gives drivers [more]
Staff members inside the White House are usually heavily scrutinized and checked before they are allowed to hold any kind of position inside the official residence and principal workplace of the President of the United States. However, reports have revealed that a new set of FBI background checks was apparently [more]
SANTA FE, N.M. - An amended version of the New Mexico extended background check bill is now heading to the house floor. The House Consumer and Public Affairs recently voted 3-1 to approve the new house bill, HB 50, which seeks to extend the requirement of background checks for gun [more]
President Donald Trump's executive order to deny refugees and immigrants from entering the United States sent shockwaves around the country and sparked protest from Muslim and Non-Muslim American citizens. Over the weekend, protest erupted in various locations around the country including several rallies in large airports in New York, Denver, [more]
Gun rights advocates have reportedly now lobbied for the incoming Trump administration to do away with a recently finalized ruling that would collate information gathered from the Social Security System into the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. The ruling was originally submitted as part of the [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.