There is a lot of controversy out there over guns. In addition to all the shootings, there is frequent speculation about the shooters. Information came to light that a couple of the recent shooters had mental illnesses. This has reignited the debate about loopholes in the law that allow people with chronic mental illnesses to buy and own guns. As gun shops continue to offer guns for sale, this particular debate continues. The following shows some interesting facts about the gun laws, people with mental illness, and the debate over privacy versus public safety.
Gun laws exist to protect people, primarily those would-be targets of shooters who are angry and want their targets to know it. That is why a background check and a three-day "cooling off" period are required in every state for all guns sold through gun shops and gun dealers.
In 2014, the government closed a loophole in a gun law that would make it difficult for people with mental illness to buy guns from shops and dealers.
When it comes to someone with a history of mental illness, NICS relies on states to gather and send information about the identities of those who are ineligible to buy firearms. People who have been involuntarily civilly committed to a mental institution, found incompetent to stand trial or not guilty by reason of insanity, and anyone a court deems unable to manage his or her own affairs due to mental illness are all ineligible.
Except that there is yet another couple of loopholes. Institutions in some states do not report mental health patients because of HIPAA interpretations. HIPAA is medical privacy law, and depending on how states and institutions interpret it, they can refuse to report this data to NICS. Additionally, all private sales of guns are not held to the same strict rules.
People with Mental Illness and Gun Violence
Most people in this country suffer from depression, anxiety, or both. Statistically, they are more likely to shoot themselves than walk into a crowd or building and shoot others. Those that had mental illness and committed public shootings had delusions of grandeur or fame, or (as was the case with the fellow who thought he was the Joker and shot people at a Batman movie) believe that they are someone else entirely. Unfortunately, the stigma sticks to everyone with mental illness, and thus the gun laws against everyone with any disorder.