The federal government has had a no-gun-sale database since 1998. California maintains its own Armed Prohibited Persons list. Yet millions of mentally ill people remain unlisted, ostensibly still able to purchase firearms legally. Vice President Biden’s task force to reduce gun violence has focused on improving the effectiveness of such databases.
Is this a realistic goal, given how many different agencies need to coordinate the information at the local, state, and federal level? Is the focus on gun access for the mentally ill an appropriate response, given the vast majority of acts of gun violence are not committed by those with mental illness? What are the practical implications of maintaining such a list? Can someone ever be removed from the list if they regain their mental well-being?
Steve Lindley, Chief of the Bureau of Firearms, California Department of Justice