Last Updated:November 30 @ 12:35 pm

N.J. forwards names for federal gun-ban database

By Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)

TRENTON -- The names of hundreds of thousands of current and former New Jersey residents who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities have been added to an FBI database used to bar firearms purchases by people with criminal records or a history of mental illness.

New Jersey court officials said that they began forwarding digital records to the FBI earlier this year and that they expect to complete the program by the end of May.

The Civil Commitment Automated Tracking system has turned over identities of 280,000 people subject to involuntary civil commitment dating to 1975 in 16 of the state's 21 counties. The five remaining counties -- Atlantic, Essex, Hudson, Monmouth and Bergen -- likely will be added by the end of May.

Officials of the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts say they expect the total number of people whose names have been sent to the FBI will reach about 420,000.

"The program has already demonstrated its usefulness in promoting public safety," said Glenn A. Grant, a New Jersey appellate judge who is serving as acting director of the New Jersey court system. "More than 85 gun purchases were denied based on the records the court provided to the New Jersey State Police for referral to the federal registry.

The data collection began in 2010 and has been paid for with $2.7 million in federal grant money for staff to input paper records, as well as to transfer existing computer records to a state database. The program involves only involuntary commitments, cases in which people have been found by a judge to pose a danger to themselves or others because of mental illness. People who seek treatment on their own and ask to be placed in a psychiatric facility are not included in the registry.

The issue of access to firearms by people with psychiatric histories received intense focus in 2011 when U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was critically wounded and six people were killed at an event near Tucson, Ariz., by a gunman later found to be a paranoid schizophrenic, and again last year following the shootings of 26 children and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Conn., by a youth with a history of isolation and seemingly troubled behavior.

It is unlikely that Adam Lanza, the shooter in Newtown, would have been flagged by the background check system, since he used weapons purchased by his mother and apparently never had been involuntarily committed to a psychiatric facility.

But the shootings prompted intense discussion about how to reduce gun violence by restricting firearms sales, including restricting purchases by people suffering from psychiatric disorders.

The federal database dates to the early 1990s, when Congress passed the Brady Act, authorizing federal background checks for gun buyers for criminal histories and a five-day waiting period before a gun sale could be completed.

Following the Columbine High School shootings in 1999, Congress passed legislation calling for instant background checks, and the FBI established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System at its information center in West Virginia.

The law also required that gun buyers be screened for mental health disorders, but those records were scattered in county courthouses around the country and hard to access. In 2007, following the massacre at Virginia Tech of 32 people by a student with a history of mental illness, Congress authorized grants to states to encourage creation of databases containing the names of people who had been involuntarily committed that could be integrated with the federal background check system.

The pace has been slow. At least 14 states still do not participate, and while New Jersey began gathering records of people adjudicated mentally ill in 2010, it had forwarded only 17 names to the FBI by the time of the Newtown killings last year.

Since then, according to Jack McCarthy, the state court system's chief technology officer, a flood of information has been forwarded to the federal government. Moreover, a system is in place now to automatically update the database as new information comes in.

McCarthy says the information is carefully screened and tested for accuracy to avoid misidentification.

People who have been barred from purchasing weapons because a background check revealed a previous mental health history can try to have the record expunged, Judge Grant said.

No such cases have emerged yet in New Jersey, but Grant said they likely would involve an appearance by the person seeking to purchase a weapon before the court that authorized the commitment in the first place. If a judge concludes that, based on the evidence, the person has recovered, authorities would be required to remove that person's name from the database, Grant said.

(c)2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer

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  1. capricorn1Comment by capricorn1
    April 29, 2013 @ 11:28 am

    TREASON pure and simple!

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    • paladin63Comment by paladin63
      April 29, 2013 @ 3:01 pm

      Where’s the treason?

      Providing data so the NICS an perform the job it was designed to perform?

      These are people who were determined by a judge to be mentally unfit; committed to an institution.

      These are not people seeing their Tuesday afternoon therapist because their having problems at work or in the home.

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    • bna42Comment by bna42
      April 29, 2013 @ 4:16 pm

      “These are people who were determined by a judge to be mentally unfit; committed to an institution.”

      paladin, it has always been law that people had to be determined by a JUDGE to be mentally unfit and committed to an institution.

      However, as anything else the federal government gets involved in, as soon as this information is mandated from all states by the federal government, there will be MASSIVE abuse. The devil is in the details, and we will find out after the fact that there is a little-known clause in the law that will require innocent people to be reported to this “database”. There will be military veterans who sought treatment for PTSD who will be declared “mentally unfit” and placed on the database, not because they are mentally unstable but because the military is despised by these liberal activists. Did you know that this has already been planned by the Veterans Administration? Regulations at the VA currently ALLOW a “social worker” to designate a veteran as mentally incompetent and report that person’s name to the NCIS? Not a JUDGE, or a psychiatrist, or a psychologist, but a “social worker”. Why are veterans exposed to something that civilians don’t have to deal with?

      Our federal government is known to use an occurrence to expand federal control over as many people as possible, and once it begins there is no going back. Look at the beginning sentence of this article which says “HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS of current and former New Jersey residents who have been involuntarily committed to psychiatric facilities. . .” My God, is ALL of New Jersey mentally insane and have ALL of them been committed at one time or another?

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    • 1389ADComment by 1389AD
      April 30, 2013 @ 8:42 am

      Mental health background checks violate HIPAA, just for starters. The vast majority of people who have been treated for mental issues are no danger to themselves or anybody else.

      There’s also the issue that some people have been involuntarily committed by relatives for malicious purposes, such as to obtain custody of children or to gain control of property.

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  2. dickgComment by dickg
    April 29, 2013 @ 12:58 pm

    “. . . If a judge concludes that, based on the evidence, the person has recovered, authorities would be required to remove that person’s name from the database, Grant said.. . .”
    I’ll bet that works something like getting your name removed from the “no/Fly” list!

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  3. MutantoneComment by Mutantone
    April 29, 2013 @ 2:16 pm

    A clear violation of the HIPAA law: “The Office for Civil Rights enforces the HIPAA Privacy Rule, which protects the privacy of individually identifiable health information; the HIPAA Security Rule, which sets national standards for the security of electronic protected health information; and the confidentiality provisions of the Patient Safety Rule, which protect identifiable information being used to analyze patient safety events and improve patient safety.”

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    • paladin63Comment by paladin63
      April 29, 2013 @ 3:02 pm

      This is not a medical record. It is a court record and is exempt from HIPPA.

      A person has been adjudicated. A hearing was held, they were granted due process and the opportunity to present a defense.

      This is not HIPPA, it is no different than your criminal or traffic records.

      Read HIPPA and you will see.

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  4. relli90Comment by relli90
    April 29, 2013 @ 3:09 pm

    And who should this surprise?

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  5. dodgecharger4404Comment by dodgecharger4404
    April 29, 2013 @ 5:29 pm

    It is an almost sure bet this “no buy” list will be expanded to include all sorts of federally defined “disorders.” Eventually, it could include those who are members or attendees of Christian churches (especially conservative ones). Facebook pages could be scanned for posts and comments to discern non-politically correct or otherwise conservative individuals, who oppose leftist agendas. Yes, even leaving a comment on this website or even merely registering here could strip one of the right to purchase a gun, or ammunition.

    The left wishes to eliminate opposition, especially public, but also private expressions. All one has to do is look at other repressive regimes, where practically every aspect of life was or at least might be, monitored. Neighbors, family members, fellow parishioners, could be paid or bribed to report any activity or speech deemed “subversive.” Technology could be employed to determine what radio or cable broadcast was tuned in. There is practically no limit on avenues could be employed.

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  6. jmikes1951Comment by jmikes1951
    April 29, 2013 @ 5:36 pm

    Give them an inch and they will take a thousand miles. Don’t give Libearal the first inch that is the one that will take away the 2nd Amendment not the next thousand miles. Insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results each time. Liberals have proven over and over that they cannot ne trusted.

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  7. Pingback: New Jersey Bypasses Medical Privacy To Assist Feds In Gun Control Registry | Irascible Musings

  8. Pingback: New Jersey Reports “Everyone” Who Has Been Committed To The NICS System | Extrano's Alley, a gun blog

  9. Pingback: Conservative Corner | PatriotsBillboard

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