Jan. 22, 2013

HARRISBURG-- Rep. Todd Stephens (R-Montgomery) praised the Pennsylvania State Police for acting on his request to give the National Instant Check System (NICS) the mental health records of people prohibited from buying guns due to mental illness. The Pennsylvania State Police sent more than 600,000 mental health records to the FBI-run NICS. The records are of people prohibited from buying guns because of involuntary mental health commitments.

These records are already included in Pennsylvania’s Instant Check System (PICS), but 18 months ago Stephens learned the state police were not submitting them to the NICS due to “legal and technical” issues and has been urging them to take action.

“I applaud the state police for voluntarily providing this information to the national database,” Stephens said. “It will go a long way toward keeping guns out of the hands of those who may not possess a firearm due to mental health issues.”

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. According to a July 2012 U.S. Government Accountability Office Report, in 2004, 200,000 mental health records were available in the national database versus 1.2 million in 2011. Not surprisingly, 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 during that period according to the same report.

For more information visit: http://www.gao.gov/assets/600/592452.pdf.

While Stephens is pleased with the decision, he will still pursue legislation requiring the Pennsylvania State Police to submit the mental health records routinely. “The state police have done the right thing in voluntarily submitting the records and we must ensure these records are submitted moving forward,” Stephens said.

“This commonsense initiative will help keep us safe from those with mental health issues who would otherwise fall through the cracks and be permitted to illegally purchase firearms,” Stephens said.

For more information, visit Stephens’ website at www.RepToddStephens.com and follow him on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/RepToddStephens.com.

Representative Todd Stephens
151st District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: David Foster