For weapons checks, mental health records can remain a blind spot

  • Mental health records can prevent someone from legally purchasing a firearm
  • New Hampshire, Montana, and Wyoming are the three states that do not report to the system
  • Militant groups defending gun rights have fought state action alongside mental health advocates

Federal officials say the FBI’s database of people prohibited from buying firearms works only if it contains “complete, accurate, and timely information.”

Mental health records are the main slit in the system. But three states – New Hampshire, Montana and Wyoming – still refused to provide it.

While US senators have been reading about gun reform initiatives, many Republicans like Senator John Cornyn of Texas have repeatedly pointed to legislation that prevents people with criminal records or mental health challenges from obtaining firearms.

Cornyn backed a 2018 bill that sought to bolster the FBI’s Immediate Criminal Examination System, or NICS, in the wake of the Texas church shooting that left 27 people dead. Among the dead was the gunman, an Air Force pilot, whose criminal records that would have prevented him from purchasing weapons were not submitted to the NICS.

Texas Republican Senator John Cornyn backed a 2018 bill that sought to bolster the FBI's immediate criminal background check system.

“For years, agencies and states have not adhered to the law, and failed to upload these critical records without consequences,” Cornyn said while celebrating the “Fix NICS” solutions that pushed for faster and more accurate transmissions. “Just one recording that was not properly reported could lead to a tragedy.”

President Donald Trump signed the law, which pumped $615 million into states to plug loopholes and support reporting in the FBI system.