The number of prohibited firearms possessors in the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System due to mental health records has doubled in the past three years after intense efforts to reform the program.
The increase, to 4,216,350 individuals as of Nov. 30 barred from legal firearms sales for mental health reasons, comes as pressure is placed on the program to be more effective. This is jump from 3.7 million records on file last November, a one-year increase of nearly 14 percent.
While over 4 million records may sound like a lot, some point to statistics that suggest a possible higher percentage of the population may suffer from a diagnosable “serious mental illness” that could bar firearms ownership. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, in 2013, there were an estimated 10 million adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. with so-classified SMIs.
Gun control advocates contend their efforts to increase reporting from states who long withheld mental health information from the federal database, is producing results in closing the perceived shortfalls.
A Freedom of Information Act request from former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety organization shows that in 2012 some 19 states had failed to submit even 100 records to the system. The latest data suggests this group shrunk to just six: Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming.
“The evidence is clear that as states submit their mental health records, background checks become more effective at keeping guns out…