Wednesday, January 23, 2013

PA Adds Mental Health Records ot Nat'l Database

from the inbox:

The Pennsylvania State Police today confirmed that it has shared 643,167 mental health records on prohibited gun purchasers with the National Instant Check System (NICS), according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. In a 2011 report that revealed how many mental health records each U.S. state had shared with NICS, Mayors Against Illegal Guns ranked Pennsylvania among the worst performing states. Through 2011, the Pennsylvania Instant Check System (PICS) had access to 615,443 mental health records according to the Pennsylvania State Police. As of October 31, 2012, Pennsylvania had shared just one mental health record with NICS.

The Mayors Against Illegal Guns report, Fatal Gaps: How Missing Records in the Federal Background Check System Put Guns in the Hands of Killers, is available at

“After years of red tape, Pennsylvania officials have taken a big step toward keeping guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” said Mark Glaze, Director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “In the nearly two years since we published our report, we’ve seen a renewed focus on ways to prevent people who have been judged a danger to themselves or others from obtaining dangerous firearms. We applaud the Pennsylvania State Police for cutting through the bureaucratic obstacles and putting the safety of American citizens first.”

In response to the shooting spree at Virginia Tech – the  deadliest mass shooting in American history – Congress enacted the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, which created incentives for states to share mental health records with NICS. Due to unanswered questions about which mental health records should be shared, Pennsylvania refused to upload mental health records from its own background check system. State Police officials say they have repeatedly sought guidance from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) since June 2011. The ATF, which has not had a confirmed director in six years, has yet to respond.

“Commissioner Frank Noonan has taken a key action to make our streets safer and ultimately save lives, not only in Pennsylvania, but in neighboring states and across the country,” said Lancaster Mayor Rick Gray, Pennsylvania Chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “We know that guns used in crimes have often crossed state lines, and until now, people who were adjudicated mentally ill in Pennsylvania could simply purchase guns in another state. This is not going to solve the illegal gun problem by itself, but it will make it harder for dangerous people to buy guns and use them to harm others.”

In Pennsylvania, Mayors Against Illegal Guns advocates ending the concealed carry reciprocity agreement with Florida known as the Florida Loophole, requiring gun owners to report lost or stolen handguns, and strengthening punishments for illegal guns. The coalition’s national goals include requiring background checks for all gun sales, making gun trafficking a federal crime, and banning the sale of military style weapons and high capacity magazines.

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