State Representative Patricia Morgan (District 26 - Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) today called upon Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to speed up the state’s response to the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems Index (NICS), the federal database that used to determine who is permitted to purchase firearms.
Rhode Island is just one of four states (Rhode Island, Alaska, Idaho and Delaware) that have failed to provide any data to NICS, the national database of background information used to screen individuals attempting to purchase firearms.
Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.
“Given the events in Newtown CT, and the newfound interest in cutting down on gun-related violence, systems such as NICS are critically important," said Morgan. "It is one of the steps that we can take to keep guns out of the hands of people who are more apt to use them to harm others and it should not be neglected. It is troubling that RI has not even bothered to submit one name."
“Mayors Against Illegal Guns", a group of more than 800 mayors chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, reports that the number of state-submitted mental health records increased 35 percent since October, 2010, from 864,962 to 1,171,029 records. None of those records, however, were submitted by Rhode Island.
“This database is as much a protection to those living here as well as nationally, and I am astounded that we are not contributing," continued Morgan. "We should feel a stronger sense of obligation here instead of again falling to the bottom of yet another list of failed performance."
“I understand that compiling and submitting this data requires significant effort and those undertaking it will not get a lot of public praise and adulation. But this is something that is important to focus on and get done. The list of non-contributors is one Rhode Island should not be on. If New York and California can comply, then we can, too."
“I hope that with the Newtown tragedy behind us, the Attorney General and others involved will re-double their efforts to make Rhode Island part of the solution instead of part of the problem,” said Morgan.
The report by Mayors Against Illegal Guns ranked Rhode Island 51st among U.S. states and territories in terms of mental health records submitted.