It's a question at the heart of the gun debate. Most Americans think the answer is yes (an overwhelming majority continues to support comprehensive background checks for gun buyers), while the National Rifle Association emphatically believes the opposite (its leadership opposes new firearm regulations of virtually any kind). Now, a new report from the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety crunches some actual data: Citing figures from the FBI, the gun-reform group reports that the numberof mental health records collected from states in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (known as "NICS") has tripled to nearly three and a half million since 2011—and that as a result, a growing number of mentally ill people have been stopped from purchasing firearms through licensed dealers.
The change owes to increased federal funding for the system and a wave of more stringent state laws put in place. As we documented at the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook massacre, 2013 saw a barrage of new state laws from coast to coast, both easing and tightening gun restrictions. Among them were laws in 15 states intended to keep firearms away from the seriously mentally ill.