KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Waxman Urges Biden To Consider Mental Health In Gun Violence Talks; Mentally Ill Missing From Background Check System

As the nation grapples with mental health issues in the wake of recent violence, issues related to restricting gun ownership for the mentally ill take shape on Capitol Hill.

The Hill: Waxman Urges Attention To Mental Health In Gun Debate
A leading House Democrat urged Vice President Biden Friday not to ignore mental health issues as his panel grapples with U.S. gun violence. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), the top Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, wrote to Biden recommending better gun-safety standards, more research applying a public-health perspective to gun violence and greater mental health coverage for people in the United States. "Experts agree: the prevalence of guns and gun violence in our society is not just a criminal justice problem; it is also a public health and safety problem," Waxman wrote in a letter Friday (Viebeck, 1/11).

Los Angeles Times: Many Mentally Ill Missing From Gun Background Check System
Swept along by the tide of outrage and sorrow after the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre, Congress passed a law to try to prevent future tragedies by keeping guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. The measure, signed by President George W. Bush, promised to strengthen the 14-year-old National Instant Criminal Background Check System by establishing incentives and penalties to prod states to submit records of people legally barred under federal law from buying guns -- including those who had been committed to mental institutions. But today, that promise remains unfulfilled. More than half the states haven't provided mental health records to the federal database that gun dealers use to check on buyers. And the gap in dealing with the mentally ill is just one of myriad problems that have hampered background checks (Tanfani, 1/12).

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