Obama tries to strengthen background check system

McClatchy Washington BureauJanuary 3, 2014 

The Obama administration moved Friday to try to strengthen the database that’s designed to keep firearms from people who are barred from owning them.

The Department of Health and Human Services issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to remove legal barriers that could prevent states from reporting certain information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

The federal government and various states  to the haven’t sent millions of mental-health and drug abuse records, according to recent studies.

A host of logistical problems – including concerns about violating privacy, misunderstandings about which records should be submitted and a lack of money and training – has left the National Instant Criminal Background Check System without the information that’s necessary to prevent guns from ending up in dangerous hands.

"There is a strong public safety need for this information to be accessible to the NICS, and some states are currently under-reporting or not reporting certain information to the NICS at all" HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said. "This proposed rulemaking is carefully balanced to protect and preserve individuals’ privacy interests, the patient-provider relationship, and the public's health and safety."

The proposal would give states and certain covered entities flexibility to ensure accurate but limited information is reported to the NICS, which would not include clinical, diagnostic, or other mental health information.  

Since the Newtown, Conn. shooting massacre, President Obama has tried to enact a series of executive actions tor reduce gun violence. A separate set of bills failed to receive approval from Congress.


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