Gun buyers database missing mental health records

Although federal law disqualifies the mentally ill from buying firearms, none of their names are listed in the databases that licensed gun dealers are required to check when they sell somebody a gun. The problem is most states have strict privacy laws that prevents access to such information by law enforcement.

An Alabama man Farron Barksdale who had been involuntarily committed to mental institutions, bought a rifle and ambushed and killed 2 police officers. In New York, a schizophrenic nonchalantly strolls into a Catholic Church during Mass and shoots and kills the priest and one parishioner.

There was legislation in Congress to change this and allow more disqualifying records such as mental health records to get into the database. Also this new legislation would require the individual states to improve their own databases to include other information such as domestic violence and restraining orders which are also supposed to disqualify one from buying guns.

1998 to 2005, over 53 Million criminal background checks on gun buyers were conducted. 850,000 gun sales were prevented, mostly because the buyer had a criminal record, according to the FBI.

Legislation sponsored by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-NY argued that millions of database records are clearly incomplete or missing.

29 states currently allow somebody with a serious mental illness to buy a gun from a licensed gun dealer. Although Federal law prohibits gun sales to the mentally ill, if the names aren’t in a database, then the law in unenforcible. Dealers have no way of knowing who they are selling a gun to if their name isn’t in a database.

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