The Associated Press reports today that the number of mentally ill included on a list that bans them from buying guns has more than doubled in the past five months. U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey announced that in July 174,863 names were in the federal database, while there are now 393,957. “Instant background checks are essential to keeping guns out of the wrong hands, while still protecting the privacy of our citizens,” said Mukasey.
Virginia Tech student Seung-Hui Cho, who killed 32 people and himself on April 16, would likely have been unable to purchase the firearms he used in the massacre if a 2005 court order calling him a danger to himself had been submitted to the database. Thirty-two states reported names to the database, while the remaining 18 are not legally obligated to do so. Virginia has traditionally submitted the most names to the database, with 81,233 included around the time of the Virginia Tech massacre.
Not everyone thinks the increase is entirely positive, however. “We’re concerned that in the minds of many, mental illness is, per se, equated with violence,” Ron Honberg, legal director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness, told the AP.
Previous "This Just In" articles from this week:
DMB bassist’s house is smokin’ [November 29]
Lessard and son safely escape Albemarle house fire
Grisham pleads the First [November 29]
His lawyers try to rid the author of his lawsuit once and for all
Groh won’t go; fans fuss [November 28]
Hoos congratulate Al, then keep griping
Kucinich is coming [November 27]
Presidential candidate will speak on December 7
UVA students charged with kidnapping [November 27]
Victim was held for $500,000 ransom