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Gun control activists: 1000s of mental health records going unreported to FBI

Thumbnail image for Gun control signs at peace march, youth.jpg
Big photos below.
Since James Holmes killed twelve people in Aurora, catalyzing heated gun control debates across the country, many have focused their attention on the suspect's past psychiatric care. As officials debate what can be done to keep guns out of the hands of those with a history of mental illness, a new report shows that in Colorado -- and in many states across the country -- thousands of mental health records aren't reported to the feds.

This information gets at one of the core issues of the gun control discussion -- one that has seen local officials pushing for a range of policy responses, including restricted online ammunition sales and a return of the assaults weapon ban. But beyond the regulation of gun sales, which remains a politically volatile arena, some gun control advocates are calling for better database systems to identify individuals with a history of mental illness, so that background checks could more effectively prevent these kinds of mass shootings (including the recent Wisconsin Sikh temple tragedy, where a former Denver resident killed six people).

Mayors Against Illegal Guns, fatal gaps map.jpg
Mayors Against Illegal Guns
Screenshot of interactive map of the coalition's "Demand a Plan" initiative.
New data, organized in an interactive map and released last week by a national group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns, estimates, based on Federal Bureau of Investigation data, how many mental records in states across the country go unreported to the FBI. These figures are especially important in the context of the number of background checks that take place annually.

The data, through April 2012, shows that in Colorado, more than 11,000 mental health records weren't reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS. The study ranks the fifty states by identifying the five states that have submitted the most mental health records when controlling for population, and then comparing the rest of the country to those standards. In those top five states -- Virginia, California, Washington, Michigan and New York -- 830 records per 100,000 residents have been submitted. Colorado, the report says, would have to submit 11,192 records to join the top ranking states.

Colorado conducted 336,296 gun background checks in 2011 using this very incomplete data according to the study, which notes that 30,885 mental health records have been submitted in the state. Colorado falls somewhere in the middle compared to states across the country and is certainly doing a much better job reporting than the states at the bottom, which in some cases have submitted as few as three records.

"We have a lot of work to do," says Joanne Schwartz, executive director of ProgressNow Colorado, which has worked with the Mayors Against Illegal Guns coalition and works actively on gun control issues. "These recent mass shootings...really draws the focus to mental illness and the need to track it and report it effectively."

This data supports the concerns of officials like Denver mayor Michael Hancock, who we recently spoke with about gun control. Hancock is a part of the coalition that released the report, but he said he would not use the Aurora tragedy to push gun policy changes -- which the coalition has already done. Hancock, speaking to us at a peace rally focused on gang violence, emphasized the importance of mental health in these debates and also suggested some kind of trigger system where law enforcement officials would be notified when large quantities of ammunition were purchased.

Page down to read more about how Colorado's mental-health reporting compares to other states.



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90 comments
DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

-- Should Mentally Defective people be allowed to Possess Firearms ?

 

Pedro Martinez DePacas
Pedro Martinez DePacas

There are 5 million mentally unstable people in Colorado . It's called the city of Denver .

winghunter
winghunter

Dr. John Lott was once against any gun ownership of any kind. He, like many others before him, swore to research the Second Amendment and our entire history to prove his view was correct. When Dr. Lott returned, he confessed he had been wrong and, unlike the ones who also failed, he has been actively educating anyone willing to listen to the truth:

 

Video: Dr. John R. Lott Jr. Explains The Facts Surrounding Gun Control http://www.examiner.com/video/dr-john-r-lott-jr-explains-the-facts-surrounding-gun-control

 

Media Silence Is Deafening About Important Gun News http://newmediajournal.us/indx.php/item/3059

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

My question @MentalHealth36 is, why push #GunControl when Hospital errors & malpractice kill over 10 times as many people each year?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo: Why not push policy solutions 2 both problems? U.S. has the highest rate of gun violence in the democratic world @MentalHealth36

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

& besides @PolitiComm The Government should not be creating Policy for #GunControl that subverts Constitutional Rights! @MentalHealth36

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Here, http://t.co/2QIxj77H download the PDF, It shows sources not college professors & Bloggers.#GunControl @MentalHealth36

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

My data comes from FBI, CDC & DOJ reports. Can you show me data that trumps that @PolitiComm ? #GunControl @MentalHealth36

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

That is a lie @PolitiComm We both know your data is flawed! You can't even substantiate it with credible sources! @MentalHealth36

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Later. Think you're mistaken on FFL @ gun shows. NICS only requires those doing "regular biz" 2 do checks. http://t.co/8EdMDHOX

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

I am going to bed @PolitiComm 5:00am comes early! Nice talking, yelling, arguing, laughing with you, have a great day tomorrow! Later?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo We may disagree on #s, but not true. Many bombings since 9/11 foiled or had limited impact b/c of limits on bomb-making material.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm #GunRights are protected by Responsible gun ownership, Not laws. Laws restrict rights, not criminal intent!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Are you sure? I think it depends on the state. My understanding is that in many states you don't need an ffl to sell at a gun show

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo THANK YOU! I mean it. Said same thing 4 a week. Personally don't think a semi-auto rifle is more practical based on conversations.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm A legitimate Owner does the right thing, Criminals don't & laws don't stop criminals. So Again why hinder Lawful Owner?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm A legitimate Owner does those things, Criminals don't & laws don't mean SPIT to criminals. So Again why hinder Lawful Owner?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm But if you do not use ffl to sell gun or report it, you are responsible until you can prove you don't still own it!

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Personally, I would not own a full auto weapon as they waste ammo! Sure, they are fun! But very impractical outside a war.

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo I would avoid reporting if I sold a gun illegally. There's no burden in reporting 4 law abiding gun owners. There is 4 criminals.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm & they can be bought in Mexico for next to nothing. Its restricting Victim without changing impact on criminal that bothers me.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

OK @PolitiComm Do you own a gun? if so, if you spent $1,500 plus on a real nice rifle would you report it stolen? I WOULD!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo It isn't obvious? #Columbine, VA Tech, Tuscon, Aurora, Oak Creek. Criminals are more likely to NEED & WANT 100 rds than you are.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm I don't! but what good reason can you give to disallow?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo: A good example might be a law requiring responsible gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons to authorities.

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Good. That's all I'm saying. Home defense is reasonable under 2nd Amendment. Why do you need a 100 round mag in an AR 2 defend?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm So define common sense that does not infringe 2nd Amendment for lawful gun owners?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo I'M NOT SAYING BAN GUNS. NOT EVEN, NECESSARILY, SAYING BAN ARs. I'M SAYING COMMON SENSE GUN LAW CAN PREVENT & LIMIT GUN VIOLENCE.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm & I would stop if they ran! its about survive, not mayhem! I would want them to survive for court myself!

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm The person saving his family against 5 home invasion attackers! I would not need more than 10 shots personally.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm He was a criminal! average citizen is not. Less than 1% of legal guns are ever used in crimes. But hey ban them all right?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo You're missing the point (typical). WHO, BUT YOU, CARES IF AN AR IS FULLY AUTO OR SEMI AUTO IF IT CAN KILL 100 PPL IN 90 SECONDS?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm You would have to buy a M4 or AR-16, those require License and about $10,000. Not easy to get license!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo "Only semi!" The #Aurora shooter killed 12 people and wounded 58, but that's okay 'cause it was "only" a semi.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm But I have not! an assault weapon is a weapon the has selective fire, (Semi/Full auto). AR-15 does not qualify! Only semi!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo I don't know. Only assault weapon I've fired is the AK. Ask the #Aurora shooter. He got off 70 rounds in 60 seconds.

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Thanx. Now prepared 2 meet alien invaders & inevitable nuclear war. All b/c u shared gun manufacturer's def. of "assault weapon."

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

You can pull the trigger 100 times in 90 seconds @PolitiComm ? Or are you toting a full auto weapon?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm So you think the citizen should be restricted to a class of weapon far less effective to the criminal's weapon? Pro-criminal?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Wish I'd met u b4. I feel so much safer knowing I can mow down 100 ppl in 90 seconds. What would I have done if zombies attacked?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo I can't believe I've been so blind. The framers of the U.S. Constitution clearly anticipated the development of weapons like Uzis

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Most wrongful death and injury law suits would seem to indicate that, yes, a business is responsible for your safety on premises.

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo You're right. Everyone should be able to carry a nuclear bomb wherever they go. It's our god given right as AMEREECAANS! Yee Haaw!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo According 2 the Supreme Court, corporations are people & have constitutional rights. Too bad! So sorry! Thanks 4 playing.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm As self protection is a given NATURAL right, Can you make that business responsible for protection while in store?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm So a business has the right to supersede Constitutional Rights? When marked correctly, business' can & do deny weapons!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo So, you're proposal is to take away a business' private property rights so you can carry a gun? That'll go over well.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Oh but the Colorado shooter shot all those people in a "Gun Free Zone" Those people should have been perfectly safe! Right?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Yeah, the CDC says 11,500 But that page says 39,000 & you believe? Interesting!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Considering the #Aurora shooter used a 100 round magazine, I don't think it makes most feel safe to know almost anyone can buy 1.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Some people follow, other lead! the difference is in who thinks for themselves.

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Actually, I was looking at that site and it says the U.S. is ranked #8 overall behind South Africa, Colombia, Thailand...etc.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Nope, But I do need clips holding 100 rnds or more to FEEL safe! Even though average violent crime averages 2.7 rounds fired

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo No. Do you need a missile, bomb, tank, jet or nuclear weapon to protect yourself and your family?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm But at 39,000 that includes Suicides, 2010 CDC figures showed 11,500 homicides, So I guess its a global Lie! Right?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Are you saying that god given rights to the protection of oneself & family is something reserved for chosen people?

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo So are you saying that the 2nd Amendment right to bear arms should be limited in no way?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

That Fire in theater is older than me @PolitiComm And don't the Atheists Pretend Separation of church & state is in Constitution 1rst Amnd.

juleserick14
juleserick14

@Weirdodo @PolitiComm the Wikipedia stats are from the CDC and the UN lol it even has a disclaimer at the bottom about reliability #2ndAmend

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Look @ the data again. Its broken down by homicide & suicide. Even 4 homicide we rank ahead of most industrialized nations.

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo: I don't have the right to shout "fire" in a crowded theater under the 1st Amendment. 2nd Amendment can & should be regulated too.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm but other country's gun crime does not bundle Suicide with Homicide data like the US does to push #GunControl figures.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm What did they report on? Oh yeah, Puppies! Integrity? I think not!

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm They report news, The liberal media doesn't Like their totally ignoring the Holder issue? Yeah, that's credibility for ya!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo: So you feel that Fox News is a more reliable source than ATF, but you cite CDC & FBI? I think you're a little mixed up.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

No @PolitiComm but the criminals do as they have nothing to fear from the Citizens being disarmed and all!

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo You can try 2 discredit the source. It doesn't change data. Guns in cities w/ common sense gun laws don't come from those cities.

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm you mean the same ATF that intentionally walked guns to prove illegal sales that the ATF told dealers to do? @MentalHealth36

PolitiComm
PolitiComm

@Weirdodo Trace data from ATF shows that those cities aren't necessarily the source of illegal guns. http://t.co/siVYLZYQ @MentalHealth36

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm @MentalHealth36 Maybe #CriminalRetention would work better than Citizen rights denial #GunControl?

Weirdodo
Weirdodo

@PolitiComm Notice those big cities are also the ones with Major #GunControl? Yeah, that makes your point rather well! @MentalHealth36

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