January 27, 2013

A few problems with background checks

Politico - While the background checks cover mental illness, few states are submitting the required records to the federal database. From 2004 and 2011, the number of mental health records made available to NICS increased dramatically from 126,000 to 1.2 million, according to a July report from the Government Accountability Office. But the GAO noted that the increase is largely a result of efforts by only 12 states.

Under the current restrictions regarding mental health issues, gun purchases are prohibited for anyone found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity, anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, or found legally incompetent to handle their own affairs.

Like mental health records, drug violations are also under-reported to the feds, according to reports. The GAO concluded that “most states” aren’t informing the feds of failed drug tests, as the federal background check law requires — with 30 states not making any noncriminal data available.

With regards to drugs, the law bars anyone with multiple arrests for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past five years with the most recent arrest happening in the last year. It also restricts someone who is convicted for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the last year.

That includes marijuana. And with Colorado and Washington becoming the first two states to legalize recreational marijuana — and others already legalizing medicinal marijuana — those new state laws are bumping up against the federal background checks, experts say.

...Even beyond the gun show loophole, questions about the effectiveness of the checks still linger. Researchers in 2000 reviewed more than a decade of crime data in states with and without background checks. They found no significant difference in murder rates in states that had implemented the checks and states that had not, according to the study, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association.

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