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Medical News & Perspectives
August 1, 2007

Efforts to Prevent Gun Sales to Mentally Ill May Deter Patients From Seeking Help

JAMA. 2007;298(5):503-504. doi:10.1001/jama.298.5.503

New legislation designed to prevent homicides such as the mass killings at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg last April may have the unintended effect of discouraging individuals from seeking mental health services, experts say.

The bill (HR 2640), which passed the US House of Representatives in June and has been under review in the Senate, would provide incentives for states to submit complete, automated records of involuntary commitments to mental institutions and other data relevant to gun purchases to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), for the purpose of disqualifying certain individuals with severe mental illness from purchasing firearms.