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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session


Posted: December 17, 2012 03:45 PM
From: Representative Todd Stephens
To: All House members
Subject: Mental Health Records for Firearms Purchases
In the near future I will be introducing legislation to require the Pennsylvania State Police to send all existing mental health data within 90 days to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) which is utilized to check the background of individuals attempting to acquire a firearm nationwide. The bill will additionally require ongoing submissions to the national database within 48 hours of the State Police receiving mental health data.

Following the shooting at Virginia Tech the federal government enacted incentives for states to submit their mental health records to the national database which resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of records available. According to a July 2012 U.S. Government Accountability Office Report, in 2004, 200,000 mental health records were available in the national database vs. 1.2 million in 2011. Not surprisingly, the number of people denied a request to purchase a firearm based upon a mental health prohibition increased almost 600% from 365 to 2,124 during that period according to the same report. For more information visit: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592452.pdf

Those who have been committed to a mental institution are prohibited from possessing firearms but unless we include our mental health data in the nationwide database these individuals may fall through the cracks and improperly be permitted to purchase firearms despite mental health issues.

Introduced as HB1243