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House Co-Sponsorship Memoranda

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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: July 10, 2015 03:36 PM
From: Representative Todd Stephens
To: All House members
Subject: Ensuring Mental Health Disqualifications Are Sent to the National Firearms Background Check System (NICS)

In the near future I will be re-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). NICS is utilized to check the background of individuals attempting to acquire a firearm nationwide. The bill will also require ongoing submissions to the national database within 72 hours of the State Police receiving mental health data. The bill was voted out of the Judiciary Committee unanimously last session.

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 involuntarily 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.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this important piece of legislation.

Introduced as HB1498