Denying the dangerous: preventing firearms from entering the hands of the dangerously mentally ill
Bonk, David M.
Nestel, Thomas J.
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Mass shootings in the United States tend to be succeeded by a period of great public attention to gun control laws. Often of particular concern is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is promulgated by law to prevent statutorily defined individuals, including the dangerously mentally ill, from obtaining firearms. This thesis analyzed the NICS, particularly its ability or inability to prevent firearm access to the mentally ill. The examination looked at three criteria: (1) the weaknesses in the NICS that inhibit its ability in preventing the dangerously mentally ill from obtaining firearms, (2) how consistently applicable records are submitted to the NICS from the individual states, and (3) the proposed recommendations to change and create a more efficient NICS. Specific high-profile mass shootings in the United States were reviewed to illustrate legislative response to those shootings and the changes to the NICS, if any, that followed them. The goal was to identify any immediate deficiencies in the NICS and determine any corrective actions necessary to enhance it to produce a more reliable system. This research should serve as a roadmap for committees or individuals tasked with gun control legislation in the United States.
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