States must do a better job reporting records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). A report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns finds “major failure by 23 states in submitting mental-health records to the system, with 17 states reporting fewer than 10 records and four submitting none at all.” And a conversation on the amount of violence our children are exposed to in the media should be on the table as well.
While I believe that these and other common sense reforms will keep our families safer, I know we need a more comprehensive approach. We need to continue to invest in our mental health care system and education system, and provide schools, families, and communities with the resources they need to treat and care for those who need help. Despite my and others’ opposition, Republicans in Congress continue to slash our investment in mental health care, as do many states across the country, with some arguing that it is easier for a person to obtain a gun than it is to receive treatment for mental-health issues.
The task force being led by Vice President Joseph Biden, made up of members of Congress and officials from Justice, Homeland Security, Health and Human Services, and Education, is intended to provide the kind of holistic approach that we need. While it is important to act in a thoughtful manner, we must not allow a timely and empathetic response to be sidetracked yet again by studies or reports. In the next few weeks, I will be working with the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, and those affected by gun violence to urge the task force to move these common sense policies, while also seeking new ideas that might strengthen our effort to get more assault weapons off the street.