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April 20, 2007 - 4:29 am

The mentally ill (those determined to be so by the courts etc.) are supposed to be barred from buying handguns, but frequently the informationa href=”http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18217741/site/newsweek/” is not given to the NCIS:/a br /br /blockquoteBut Rand and others—including federal officials—say that enforcement of the provision in the law barring the mentally ill from buying handguns has been erratic at best. More than 20 states don’t report any mental health records—including court records of mental commitments—to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the central federal database for background checks on firearm purchases, according to Paul Bresson, a FBI spokesman. Other states, including Virginia, do report some records, but officials acknowledge that the state and federal databases are complete. Asked if Virginia should have submitted a record of the Temporary Detention Order on Cho to the bureau, Bresson responded: “We rely on the state to submit the data to us. We don’t interpret the law. All we’re doing is providing a database for them.” Still, Bresson added, “based on what we now know, it would seem that it would have been a record that should have been in the NICS”…br /br /Whatever the reason, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York, contends that every year thousands of gun purchases by mentally unstable and other unqualified people have been falling through the cracks. McCarthy has been sponsoring legislation that would offer incentives to states to report more records of mental illness and commitments to federal and state databases./blockquotebr /br /One person in the article mentions that the problem is with the medical community that has traditionally opposed making such records available on privacy grounds. Confidentiality in mental health is very important, but then, so is making sure that the mentally ill do not obtain guns illegally. Can we really rely on someone like Cho marking “yes” to form 4473 asking “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective or … committed to a mental institution?” I think not.

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