Hawaii Not Flagging Mentally Ill in Gun Background Check System

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Hawaii is one of 10 states that haven’t flagged people as mentally ill in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, according to a group that includes more than 550 mayors.


Mayors Against Illegal Guns released a report on flaws in background checks following the six killings in Arizona in which shooter Jared Loughner was able to pass a federal background check despite a history of drug arrests, abuse and mental health issues.

It said Hawaii and nine other states had failed to flag mentally ill people in the NICS database because of chronic federal underfunding for the program.

In 2007 Congress passed a measure providing incentives for states to improve the reporting of mental health information into the federal background check system. The group noted that the number of mental health NICS records has increased significantly but that much work is still required.

It said the best estimates indicate there are more than 1 million mental health records missing along with millions of other records for various types of prohibited purchasers.

In Arizona there have been 5,036 records submitted, but Loughner was able to pass a background check and buy a Glock pistol. The group said under federal law drug abusers and addicts are prohibited from buying guns.

Loughner had been arrested in 2007 on drug charges and was rejected from a U.S. Army enlistment in 2008 after admitting to habitual drug use, the group said.

“If the system had worked and records were available to demonstrate Loughner’s drug offense and abuse he would have failed that background check,” the group said.

It said only 5.3 percent of the authorized amount for the incentive program had been appropriated between fiscal year 2009 and this year.

Other states besides Hawaii that have no people flagged as mentally ill in the NICS system include Alaska, Delaware, Idaho, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Mexico, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island.

The group said 18 other states had fewer than 100 people listed as mentally ill in the database.

It said as of recently only 2,092 people were listed as drug abusers or addicts in the NICS.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns was formed to increase accountability for gun offenders and irresponsible gun dealers as well as working to fix weaknesses in laws that allows criminals and prohibited purchasers from getting guns.





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