States are required under existing gun laws to maintain a registry of mentally ill people who are subject to background checks before they can purchase guns. According to the Associated Press, more than half of the states in this country are in violation of this Federal law. The deadline for complying with this law, which was enacted three years ago, was January of 2011. As of this date there are nine states that haven’t supplied even a single name to this Federal database. Seventeen other states have supplied less then twenty-five names to the Federal database. Gun dealers are still selling guns to mentally incompetent individuals due to the failure of states to comply with this statute.
The Federal database law for mentally ill people who seek to purchase guns was passed after the tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech. Gun control groups estimate that there should be more than one million people listed in this Federal database.
Sean Byrne, who is the current acting commissioner of the Division of Criminal Justice Services in New York, stated, “if the mental health records are not current from our sister states, the quality of our background check is going to be compromised.” New York State has submitted more than one hundred thousand names to this Federal database of mentally ill individuals who should not be sold guns. Congress has allocated $1.3 billion to develop this federal database. Only a very small portion of these funds have been utilized.
Representative Gabriel Gifford
House of Representatives member Gabriel Gifford was an up and coming congress woman. On January 8, 2011, she was shot in the head in Tucson, Arizona. The gunman also killed six other individuals. They were shot by a mentally ill man. Had the federal gun laws mental illness database been appropriately maintained he would not have been able to purchase a gun. Jared Loughner was so mentally unstable that he was kicked out of the community college he attended.
Gun Safety Laws
In 2007, the United States Congress passed a law that prevented people with some mental illnesses from purchasing guns. This group of mentally ill individuals included those who had been considered dangerous to themselves and others. It also included individuals who had been involuntarily committed to mental institutions or judged not guilty by reason of incompetency or insanity relating to criminal prosecutions.
A national background check system was instituted under the Brady Law in 1993. In 2007, there was a massacre at Virginia Tech. A student by the name of Seung- Hui Cho shot thirty-two people to death and thereafter committed suicide. As a result of this incident, a statute was passed by Congress in 2007 that required states to submit records of mentally ill individuals or risk losing up to five-percent of the federal funding they receive to fight crime. Although Seung-Hui Cho was considered to be a danger to himself as a result of court hearings undertaken in 2005 and ordered to undergo out-patient mental health treatments, he was still capable of purchasing two handguns. Mr. Cho should have been barred from buying these weapons, but his records had never been forwarded to the federally sponsored gun background check system.
The following states have failed to submit any records of mentally deficient individuals to the mental health system: Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Dakota. The enabling statute creating the mental health database has penalty provisions, but these penalty provisions do not come into effect unto 2018.
In some states there are privacy laws that prevent the states from turning over individuals names to the mental health database. In these states, legislation must be passed by the state legislature to amend the states privacy laws to allow this information to be transmitted to the federal agency.
Representative Carolyn McCarthy
Representative Carolyn McCarthy of New York (my congress woman) ran for Congress after her husband was murdered and her son paralyzed by a shooting that took place on the Long Island railroad in 1993. She has been a major advocate of gun control legislation in the United States. Guns should only be in the hands of responsible individuals. Carolyn McCarthy and other members of Congress have been fighting against the National Rifle Association which is a pro-gun lobby, to bring sensible gun laws to the United States of America.
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