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Closing the Gaps: Strengthening the Background Check System to Keep Guns Away From the Dangerously Mentally Ill

The background check system is only as good as the records in the system, and hundreds of thousands of records are missing—making it all too easy for dangerously mentally ill people like the Virginia Tech shooter to slip through the cracks. Everytown’s 2014 report Closing the Gaps analyzes the latest FBI data on state record submissions to the background check system and documents efforts to improve reporting and strengthen the system.

The November 2011 report Fatal Gaps — a first-of-its-kind review of state obstacles to record reporting — revealed states’ failure to report these records, which enabled severely mentally ill people like the Virginia Tech shooter to pass background checks and buy guns.

Closing the Gaps shows the distance states have traveled in the last two years. Since November 2011:

  • The total number of records reported to the system has tripled
  • Eighteen states passed mental health record reporting laws
  • The number of states reporting fewer than 100 records total has been cut nearly in half
  • Sixty-five percent more seriously mentally ill individuals are blocked when they try to buy guns

But a handful of states must still take action to put laws in place and submit their records to the system.

Click here to read the full report.

Click here to see where records are missing in your state.

Click here to read the November 2011 report Fatal Gaps.