Dangerously mentally ill people in Indiana can easily get guns because the state does not submit their names to a federal database used for background checks on gun buyers, reports the Indianapolis Star. The state submits fewer than half its records on convicted felons to the federal list. Under federal law, states must submit such data to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a list gun dealers use to determine whether they can sell an individual a firearm. “As far as we can tell, Indiana reports zero records of people that are dangerously mentally ill,” said Paul Helmke, director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and the former mayor of Fort Wayne.
Indiana is not alone: 17 other states also fail to submit any records for the mentally ill, according to the FBI. Nineteen states submit a portion of the records. In January, President Bush signed a measure passed in reaction to the Virginia Tech shootings that provided $1.3 billion in incentives for states to get their databases in order. The law sets aside up to $375 million a year for five years for states to improve systems that track the dangerously mentally ill and share the information with the FBI and Department of Homeland Security.