Because some U.S. states are failing to properly report personal information to the Federal Government, The Feds are having difficulty enforcing a law that prohibits gun sales to mentally ill people including those who have been adjudicated as mentally ill.
According to President Barack Obama, who is now entering his second term, some states are “dragging their feet” in providing information to the Federal Government about people who shouldn’t be allowed to have guns, such as mentally ill people.
Gun control has become a very hot topic in Washington D.C. lately. In the wake of several school and public shootings, many of were massacres, lawmakers are turning their attention to guns. This week, the President himself issued several executive orders dealing specifically with gun violence.
In the quest to regulate gun sales the Federal Government needs to cooperate with the states. Unless the states do their part, there will be no cooperation and the efforts will fall short. As it turns out, some states have privacy laws that protect mental illness records in the same way they protect other health records. There are other hang-ups as well, such as private facilities that fail to submit records and lack of manpower on a state level.
When a person is convicted of a felony or adjudicated as mentally ill, state courts and police agencies have the responsibility to forward information about those individuals to the federal government so that they can be listed on the National Instant Criminal Check System or NICS. This is the system that gun dealers have access to so that they can check potential gun-buyers. Since municipalities and states are failing to forward the proper records to the feds some people are slipping through unchecked.
People are still arguing the legitimacy of federal laws that prevent people from getting the guns they use to perpetrate crimes. The arguments go both ways, so it’s logical to conclude that some of the mass shootings that involve mentally ill people could have been prevented, but not all.
For example, if a Virginia court forwarded the mental health records of Seung-Hui Cho to the federal government as they were supposed Cho wouldn’t have been able to purchase the two rifles he used to massacre 32 people at Virginia Tech. However, this system would not have prevented the now infamous Sandy Hook school shootings because Adam Lanza was never diagnosed as mentally ill nor did he obtain the guns on his own.
As a result of the situation, states that were lagging behind are beginning to update their laws to go along with federal laws. However, funding may be an issue for some states.
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich suggests examining the cases of extreme violence more closely would be wise. “You could actually put together a study that asks what are the common behaviors, what are the common patterns, because that’s a very specific number of people,” said Gingrich.
One of those patterns is that all of the shooters were young men and dealt with personal issues and/or mental health disorders. It would be fair to conclude then that these are the people society wants to scrutinize when it comes to gun ownership. Or we may want to ban them from guns altogether, as we are doing.
- McDermott, Kevin. “Stltoday.com.” STLtoday.com. Saint Louis Post Dispatch, 19 Jan. 2013. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.
- Parkinson, John. “Gingrich Urges Mass Shooter Study.” Yahoo! News. Yahoo!, 30 Mar. 0000. Web. 22 Jan. 2013.
Filed under: Life, Mental Illness · Tags: Adam Lanza, Barack Obama, gun control, gun laws, gun violence, guns, guns and violence, mass shootings, mental illness, mental illness and violence, National Instant Criminal Check System, Newt Gingrich, NICS, President Barack Obama, President Obama, Sandy Hook shootings, Seung-Hui Cho, Virginia Tech shootings