Currently, when one buys a gun from a licensed dealer, he must complete a federal form which, in addition to blanks for descriptive data, contains 13 questions which must be answered yes or no. One question asks, “Have you ever been adjudicated mentally defective or have you ever been committed to a mental institution?”
Since mental health records, like other medical records, are confidential, the authorities are unable to verify one’s answer.
In fact, in two of the last three mass shootings (in Tucson and Aurora), the shooters were undergoing mental health treatment, and the one in Newtown should have been.
In view of this, I propose we establish a national database for people who have been committed to a mental institution or have been treated for mental illness, much like our national arrest record database as maintained by the FBI. A prospective gun buyer’s name would be run through the mental health database. The above system would be a vast improvement over our current one. This may well have prevented the Tucson and Aurora shooters from legally acquiring guns, which they were able to do.
Remember, we had a 10-year ban on “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines and there was no appreciable decrease in the murder rate or crime in general.