FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2010
MAYOR BLOOMBERG ANNOUNCES NEW FEDERAL FUNDING FOR STRENGTHENING THE FEDERAL GUN BACKGROUND CHECK SYSTEM
New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to Receive $5.9 million Grant to Expedite Submission of Mental Health and Criminal Records to Federal Gun Background Check System
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg today announced a $5.9 million U.S. Department of Justice grant to the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services to speed efforts to add criminal and mental health records to the federal gun background check system. Adding these records to the system, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), is essential to preventing criminals and those with serious mental illness from being able to obtain guns that are used to commit violent crimes. The legislation that funds the grant, the NICS Improvement Act of 2007, was sponsored by Representative Carolyn McCarthy and passed in the wake of Virginia Tech massacre. Virginia Tech was the largest mass shooting in American history. The shooter had a serious mental illness but nonetheless acquired a gun because his mental health records were not included in the background check system.
“The Virginia Tech massacre was tragic reminder of the need to have mental health records in the gun background check system,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Mayors Against Illegal Guns – our coalition of more than 500 mayors – fought hard for the ability to add these records, but we would not have this funding without the leadership of Representative McCarthy. I thank her for the hard work that made this grant possible.”
The State was awarded the funding through a competitive grant program established by NICS Improvement Act of 2007. New Funding through the NICS Improvement Act has helped to increase the number of records in the system nationwide from approximately 159,000 in 2006 to more than a million in 2010.
In a parallel effort focused at the state level, with the support of many New York State mayors, the State legislature and Governor Paterson passed legislation in 2008 that enabled a dramatic increase in the number of New York mental health records submitted to NICS—from 1 record in 2006 to more than 151,000 records in 2010.
Stu Loeser / Jason Post (212) 788-2958