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3/4ths of States Ignore Mental Illness Background Checks For Gun Buyers

Virginia has more than 180,000 on its list. Nineteen states have less than 100 each.

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No one is saying that mental illness background checks will end all gun violence. But think about the current national landscape, where Virginia shares files about 180,000 people and 19 other states have shared less than 100 names each; meanwhile another 19 states have policies allowing someone who has been found to be mentally ill in court to get a gun. And consider the technological gaps, where a concerned state sends records electronically and instantly, whereas a recalcitrant state sends a CD twice a year.

These discrepancies show there is much more that states can do—if there is political will. Moreover, the national database only contains files of people with court records of mental illness—which does not include clients of state social agencies who are prevented from sharing medical records by federal and state privacy rules.

 

  

    

 

 

Steven Rosenfeld covers national political issues for AlterNet, including America's retirement crisis, the low-wage economy, democracy and voting rights, and campaigns and elections. He is the author of "Count My Vote: A Citizen's Guide to Voting" (AlterNet Books, 2008).

 
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