Rhode Island Public Radio health care reporter joined afternoon host Dave Fallon in the studio to talk about what public health experts and legal scholars have to say about mental health records and the gun background check database. A transcript follows. You can listen to our feature story on Rhode Island's lack of participation in the National Instant Criminal Background Check, or NICS, database here.
(PROVIDENCE, RI) President Obama has just unveiled a set of 23 actions he’ll take to curb gun violence. Among them: encouraging states to share information with a national background check database. While some states are already contributing a significant amount of information, Rhode Island hasn’t submitted a single record.
(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) Providence Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says the state can reduce gun-related violence by passing more stringent laws. Pare says most of the guns used for crime are illegally owned.
Pare says tougher penalties for illegal gun possession helped to dramatically reduce gun-related crime in New York City. He says more stringent punishments could help to have the same effect in Rhode Island.
Buying a gun from a dealer – say, a sporting goods store – triggers a federal background check. If you’re a convicted felon, you would fail the background check. So, too, if you’ve been involuntarily committed to an institution or otherwise ruled mentally ill. But the federal database against which background checks are run is only as good as the data. And Rhode Island is one of only four states that haven’t submitted any mental health records at all, according to a recent report out from a group called Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
PROVIDENCE, RI - State representative Patricia Morgan is calling on Attorney General Peter Kilmartin to step up efforts to restrict gun ownership by people with mental illness.
A recent report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that Rhode Island had not submitted any mental health records to a federal registry for gun background checks. That’s despite federal regulations requiring states to submit such records on anyone who should be prohibited from owning a gun. State representative Patricia Morgan says officials don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to comply.
We’re all still reeling from the Newtown, CT tragedy. Reeling…and trying to make sense of what happened and why. And that’s where health care professionals and scientists are often able to help. We’ve got some of the best right here in Rhode Island, who would probably love to be able to answer questions like: Could we get better at predicting who is likely to commit a crime with a gun? Does having access to a gun in the house make you more likely to commit a crime with a gun?
But here’s the thing. We don’t really know. And it’s not exactly their fault.
Providence Mayor Angel Taveras says the city is boosting efforts to try to reduce gun violence after last week’s school shooting in Connecticut. As Rhode Island Public Radio political reporter Ian Donnis reports, Taveras and other mayors plan to stage gun buy-back programs across the state next month.
Governor Lincoln Chafee, as part of a statement following today’s school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, says RI officials have offered their assistance to Connecticut. Here’s the governor’s full statement:
The word “tragedy” is used often these days, but it is difficult to think of a more truly tragic turn of events than what occurred in Newtown, Connecticut earlier today.
On behalf of all the people of Rhode Island, our most sincere condolences and sympathy are with the families of the victims of this horrendous crime.