Laws governing the reporting of mental health records for the purposes of gun purchases remain a patchwork among the states but have improved since Congress offered financial incentives to increase their availability, gun safety advocates tell the Mobile Register in the second in a series of articles on the issue. Still, states have no legal obligation to contribute to a national database used to run background checks of gun buyers.
A 2007 report by Third Way, a liberal-leaning, Washington-based think tank, showed that states ranged from comprehensive reporting of mental patients barred from having guns to no reporting at all. “It differs from state to state,” said Doug Pennington of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. ” There is no standard reporting method.” The Third Way report estimated that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System contained records of only 234,628 of the 2.6 million people who are barred by law from having guns because of mental health issues. Mississippi, for instance, had submitted only one record as of Nov. 30, 2008, of a person who had been involuntarily committed for mental illness.