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22-Dec-2016 19:00 by 7 Comments

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Though it’s too early to state definitively that Harper-Mercer was severely mentally ill, it would be unsurprising if he were.While the severely mentally ill commit only a tiny fraction of violent crimes, an FBI study from last year found that mental illness is frequently a factor in shootings with the highest number of fatalities.

While that is far from hard proof, Harper-Mercer’s mother also admitted her son was “dealing with some mental issues,” according to a neighbor.

The Gun Control Act of 1968 restricts sales of firearms to mentally ill individuals, defined as “an individual who has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution.” But there are loopholes and gaps within the act so that it effectively bars very few mentally ill individuals from possessing firearms.

Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group founded by Gabrielle Giffords after a mentally ill gunman shot Arizona congresswoman, found that the law “required the prospective purchaser to, in effect, police his own eligibility.” There also are gaps and problems with the 1993 Brady Law Act, which mandated a criminal and mental health background check before the purchase of a firearm.

It’s little surprise that this tragedy occurred in a state like Colorado, which has relatively lax gun-control laws—rather than in California, which has much stricter controls on firearm possession by the severely mentally ill.

Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Continue Reading » Page: 1 2 James Dudley, MAS Criminology, retired after 32 years with the San Francisco Police Department as the Deputy Chief of Operations.

The number of individuals in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System with a mental illness commitment is listed at 235,000 when FBI records estimate that there are 2.7 million involuntary mental health commitments.

Having less than 10 percent of the mentally ill population in the database clearly is inadequate.Congress’ failure to require record submissions from all states, privacy objections by states and lack of funding, resources and technology support all exacerbate the problem.In general, to deny access of firearms to the mentally ill, one must be “deemed mentally incompetent or those involuntarily institutionalized for mental illness.” This national standard is adhered to by more than half of the states.He is a Lecturer in Criminal Justice Studies at San Francisco State University and is a police practices and security consultant.Authors: James Dudley This story tagged under: Gun Control Mass Shootings Law And Order Show Comments More from POLITICO Magazine Washington And The World What Is Putin Really Up To in Syria?Of those who were active shooters, the article notes, “a majority was mentally troubled—and many displayed signs of it before setting out to kill.” The National Alliance on Mental Illness and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration caution against creating special laws aimed at the mentally ill, including laws related to gun violence.