Good article that discusses the fact that the background check system is plagued by gross under-reporting of records of criminals and the mentally ill by a number of states. At the center of the issue is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System or NICS. As the article explained, even though Congress has passed legislation empowering the Department of Justice to address undereporting by states by using both intensives and penalties, DOJ has so far only used the carrots and not the sticks. According to the Government Accountability Office:
- 44 states had submitted fewer than 10 records to the NICS controlled-substance file.
- 33 states had not submitted any records even though the law bars anyone with multiple arrests for drug use or possession within the past five years, or those convicted for use or possession within the last year, including marijuana. Yet the report found states with lengthy registries of medical pot smokers did not provide that information to the NICS system.
- 23 states and the District of Columbia had submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the federal database.
- 17 states had submitted fewer than 10 mental health records.
- Four states had not submitted any mental health records at all.
Given that a majority of Americans of all parties, and even a majority of NRA members (unlike NRA and GOP leaders) support universal background checks for all gun sales, this may be a reform that actually passes into law. If the US can get past the right-wing extremists in the House and Senate who see even the most reasonable gun policies like background checks as an assault on the 2nd Amendment, fixing the NICS system and penalizing states for not abiding by the existing law must be a part of any real reform.