Stephens Bill to Improve Background Checks on Gun Purchases Passes House
HARRISBURG-- The House has passed legislation sponsored by Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery), House Bill 1243, to require the Pennsylvania State Police send all existing mental health data within 90 days to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“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,” Stephens said.

According to a July 2012 U.S. Government Accountability Office Report, in 2004, 200,000 mental health records were available in the national database compared to 1.2 million in 2011. The number of people denied a request to purchase a firearm based upon a mental health prohibition increased almost 600 percent from 365 to 2,124 individuals during that period according to the same report.

The NICS is used to check the background of individuals attempting to acquire a firearm nationwide. The bill will additionally require ongoing submissions to the national database within 48 hours of the state police receiving mental health data.

“This is commonsense legislation that will make us safer by making sure those with mental illnesses cannot purchase firearms,” Stephens said. “Those who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health 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.”

House Bill 1243 now moves to the Senate for a vote.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives

Media Contact: David Foster

Share |