February 20, 2016 – Navy combat veteran and retired NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, the Co-Founder of the gun violence prevention organization Americans for Responsible Solutions (ARS) today applauded the New Mexico Legislature for passing ARS-endorsed bipartisan legislation that strengthen the state’s reporting of mental health records to the federal background check system and called on Governor Susana Martinez to immediately sign it into law.
The legislation, HB 336, that closes loopholes in New Mexico law by requiring the state’s courts to report relevant mental health records to the federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was passed in overwhelmingly bipartisan votes in the New Mexico House and Senate. Americans for Responsible Solutions endorsed the legislation and has been working with leaders in the New Mexico Legislature to advance the bill.
New Mexico currently has no law requiring the state to report mental health information to NICS, the federal background check system. In 2013, it had the 9th highest number of gun deaths per capita among the states.
“We applaud the leaders from both parties in the New Mexico Legislature for coming together to pass this life-saving legislation that will help keep guns out of the wrong hands. In the face of calls from Americans for Responsible Solutions supporters, advocates and public safety officials, Republicans and Democrats stood together to pass a responsible, bipartisan bill that helps strengthen our background check system,” said Captain Kelly, a Navy combat veteran and former NASA astronaut. “In the face of an unacceptable status, leaders in the legislature acted. We hope to see Governor Martinez follow suit, do the responsible thing, and help make New Mexico a safer place to live by signing this bill into law.”
OVERVIEW OF THE NATIONAL INSTANT CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM & REPORTING OF MENTAL HEALTH RECORDS
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was established in 1993 by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act. Since taking effect, over 196 million background checks have been conducted and NICS has blocked more than 2.4 million gun purchases. States provide the majority of records information to NICS, which contains criminal history, mental health history and other relevant records. While states have made significant gains in submitting mental health records to NICS, tripling these submissions from 2011 to 2014, millions of records remain incomplete or simply do not make their way into NICS.