The background check
Here’s how the system is supposed to work: Before buying a gun from a federally licensed dealer, you are required to fill out a federal form with basic questions about criminal history. The seller calls the information into the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), in Clarksburg, W. Va, and on the spot your name is run through the database. In a matter of minutes, you can complete your purchase if no red flags pop up.
So who can’t get a gun? The federal law instituting instant background checks was activated in 1998 and bars convicted killers from being able to buy firearms, as well as anyone imprisoned for more than two years; those convicted of domestic abuse; fugitives from justice, illegal immigrants; soldiers who have been dishonorably discharged; and people who are under indictment for a crime punishable by more than a year behind bars.
Many people say that background checks don’t work. Forget the idea that nothing is going to work 100% of the time.
Politico gives examples of what is not working:
……. while the background checks cover mental illness, few states are submitting the required records to the federal database. From 2004 and 2011, the number of mental health records made available to NICS increased dramatically from 126,000 to 1.2 million, according to a July report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO). But the GAO noted that the increase is largely a result of efforts by only 12 states.
Under the current restrictions regarding mental health issues, gun purchases are prohibited for anyone found not guilty of a crime by reason of insanity, anyone who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution, or found legally incompetent to handle their own affairs.
Like mental health records, drug violations are also under-reported to the feds, according to reports. The GAO concluded that “most states” aren’t informing the feds of failed drug tests, as the federal background check law requires — with 30 states not making any noncriminal data available.
With regards to drugs, the law bars anyone with multiple arrests for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the past five years with the most recent arrest happening in the last year. It also restricts someone who is convicted for the use or possession of a controlled substance within the last year.
It seems to me that enforcement would be pretty easy. Cut off federal aid to states that don’t comply. They do it over everything else. These things are either law or they aren’t. Federal gun laws should be laws, not the federal suggestions.
If you ever want to buy a gun and you are a little iffy in the mental health area, perhaps it is just best to admit yourself. It sounds like if you go voluntarily, you aren’t barred from owning a weapon.
I think we can do better than this.