5 Months After Tucson Shootings, Most States & Fed Agencies Still Fail Gun Check reporting
New government data show that most states are still failing to send records about seriously mentally ill people to the gun background check database five months after the Tucson shootings exposed serious gaps in the national do-not-sell list.
According to FBI documents describing the composition of the database on April 30, 2011, a handful of states have dramatically increased the number of records they have submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) since August 30 of last year. But millions of records of criminals, drug abusers and domestic violence offenders are still missing from the database because of lax reporting by state agencies. These categories of individuals are among those prohibited by federal law from purchasing or possessing firearms.
“The background check system has stopped hundreds of thousands of illegal gun purchases over the past decade,” said coalition co-chair and New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, “but too many dangerous people are slipping through the cracks. It’s incredible that five months after Tucson, the system is still missing millions of records. Every day, 34 people continue to be murdered, and many of those innocent victims might have been saved.”
The data show that 25 states and the District of Columbia have failed to submit any mental health records to the system. Nineteen states have submitted fewer than ten records, and six have submitted none.
Federal agencies are also required to report records on prohibited purchasers to the NICS system, but most are still not doing so.
“Tucson shocked the nation, and yet five months later, most states and federal agencies are still failing to do the bare minimum to protect public safety,” said coalition co-chair and Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. “We need full participation in the gun background check system to help reduce the epidemic of gun murders in this country. Those murders include at least 23 law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty this year by prohibited purchasers – many of whom might have been saved by a more complete database.”