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Everytown Releases Latest Analysis of FBI Data: Since Sandy Hook, States Added Nearly Three Million Records of People with Dangerous Mental Illness to Background Check Database

June 10, 2016

Since Sandy Hook Tragedy, The Number of States With Fewer Than 100 Records Dropped from 19 to Just Four: Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire, and Wyoming

See An Interactive Map Charting States’ Progress Here

NEW YORK –Everytown for Gun Safety today released an analysis of the latest FBI data revealing that states across the nation are continuing to improve efforts at getting mental health records into the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS). As of December 2015, just four states—Alaska, Montana, New Hampshire and Wyoming—had submitted fewer than 100 records. That figure represents a nearly fourfold reduction from the 19 states that had neglected to submit even 100 records as recently as 2012.

Data obtained by Freedom Of Information Act request and analyzed by Everytown shows that between December 2012 and December 2015, states submitted more than 2.3 million records of dangerously mentally ill people to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). An additional 400,000 records were submitted in the six months since the FOIA data request. And more progress continues to be made in 2016: This February, New Mexico became the latest state to pass a law that requires the reporting of prohibiting mental health records into the system.

“This is further evidence that states are finding ways to strengthen their background check systems and keep guns out of dangerous hands,” said Ted Alcorn, Research Director for Everytown for Gun Safety. “But even as legislators and governors in most states are coming together to make their communities safer, four states continue to lag considerably behind, leaving fatal gaps in the background check system that put all Americans at risk.”

Beginning in 2009, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, now a part of Everytown, devoted time and resources to raising awareness of these fatal gaps and offering policy recommendations for addressing them. You can find more information about each state’s performance on Everytown’s online Fatal Gaps heat map, an interactive tool that tracks every state’s progress.

State Mental Health Record Submissions, By the Numbers

  • In the last six months of analyzed data (June 2015 through December 2015), states submitted 193,541 mental health records to the background check system.
  • Controlling for population, the largest increase in records came in Iowa (+296 records per 100,000 residents), West Virginia (+252), and New York (+205).
  • Since the shooting at Sandy Hook, the number of states that have each reported fewer than 100 records has dropped from nineteen to four. But the following states have still reported fewer than 100 mental health records to NICS:

    • Alaska (93 records submitted)
    • Montana (3 records submitted)
    • New Hampshire (2 records submitted)
    • Wyoming (4 records submitted)

    Today’s release is part of Everytown’s longstanding commitment to chronicling gaps in the background check system. In November 2011, the organization released Fatal Gaps, the first report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns that detailed how missing records in the background check system allowed people with dangerous mental illness like the 2007 Virginia Tech gunman to pass background checks and buy guns. That report put forth measures states could initiate to improve their reporting systems. In May 2014 Everytown released a follow-up report Closing the Gaps documenting the progress states had made. Since the first release of Fatal Gaps 10 states have amended existing laws to get more records into the system and 12 states have passed new record-sharing laws, with New Mexico doing so most recently.

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