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State Mental Health Record Submissions Double
Date:11/29/2007

Since Virginia Tech, States Have Dramatically Increased Reports to National Gun Background Check System

PARK CITY, Utah, Nov. 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a speech before the National Association of Attorneys General, Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today announced that since the tragic shootings at Virginia Tech, states have doubled the information on prohibiting mental health history available to the FBI's gun background check system.

"Instant background checks are essential to keeping guns out of the wrong hands, while still protecting the privacy of our citizens," Mukasey said. "But as we learned in the tragedy at Virginia Tech, the checks must be accurate and complete to be effective. We're making progress, and I hope that even more states will submit this information so that the National Instant Background Check System can be maximally effective."

Following the shootings at Virginia Tech, the President directed the Attorney General and Secretaries of Education and Health and Human Services to travel across the country to find out what could be learned from this tragedy. The cabinet secretaries presented what they learned in a comprehensive report last July, with one recommendation strongly encouraging state and federal agencies to share prohibiting mental health information with the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Today the Attorney General announced that from July to November 2007, the number of state submissions to the NICS Mental Defective File more than doubled -- growing from 174,863 to 393,957 records.

The number of states submitting mental health information to NICS increased from 23 to 32 since the Virginia Tech shootings. The great majority of the new records came from the State of California. For the past several years, the California Department of Justice (DOJ) has worked diligently with the FBI's NICS Section to allow for submission of California mental health information, and, in October 2007, the California DOJ submitted over 200,000 entries into the Mental Defective File. Also, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Identification and Investigation increased its mental health submissions to the NICS Index. Ohio's submissions increased from three in March 2007, to 7,845 Mental Defective File submissions in November 2007.

The submission of state information to the NICS about prohibited persons is vital in preventing disqualified individuals from purchasing firearms. Making state information about a warrant or other disqualifying information -- such as prohibiting mental health records -- available for a national-level background check by the NICS helps to ensure that a person with a prohibiting record in one state will be prevented from buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer in another state. The FBI's NICS Section actively solicits mental health record information that immediately identifies individuals who are prohibited by law from possessing or receiving firearms or explosives. The NICS Section also coordinates with states seeking to draft and enact legislation that will allow them to submit state mental health information to the NICS.


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SOURCE U.S. Department of Justice
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