Calif. Doubles Mental Health Records Sent to Federal Gun Database
As of November 2013, California had submitted about 560,000 mental health records to a national background check system -- more than double the number of records the state submitted as of October 2011, according to a report released Thursday by Everytown for Gun Safety, the San Francisco Chronicle's "Politics Blog" reports.
Background on NICS
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, launched in 1998 and is used by gun dealers to ensure they are not selling weapons to individuals who are prohibited from owning firearms, such as individuals with severe mental health issues and those convicted of felonies (Freedman, "Politics Blog," San Francisco Chronicle, 5/22).
The database includes about 10 million active law enforcement, mental health and other records maintained by the FBI to screen individuals purchasing firearms. However, states have in some cases been lax about uploading records, particularly those involving mental health issues (California Healthline, 6/13/13).
Overall, states have tripled the number of mental health records submitted to NICS, contributing to a 65% increase in denials of gun purchases to individuals with severe mental illnesses from 2011 to 2013.
California is among the three states that had submitted the most records to the database as of 2013, according to "Politics Blog."
The report found that as of Nov. 30, 2013, California had submitted 563,458 mental health records to NICS, compared with 279,589 records submitted as of Oct. 31, 2011 ("Politics Blog," San Francisco Chronicle, 5/22).
Researchers said the increase is important because more than 1.3 million background checks for gun purchases were conducted in California in 2012 "using this incomplete database" (Everytown for Gun Safety report, 5/22).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.