After the shooting rampage by a mentally ill man left six University of California Santa Barbara students - and himself - dead, Rep. David N. Cicilline is pushing legislation to prevent such people from getting guns.
The Rhode Island Democrat's bill = the Purchase of Firearms by Dangerous Individuals Act - would ensure key information is submitted into the Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The proposal is aimed at keeping firearms away from individuals with a mental illness who are a danger to themselves and others, Cicilline said in a statement.
"Too many victims and their families have suffered from gun violence at the hands of dangerously mentally-ill people who were not prevented from purchasing a firearm. We cannot even begin to tackle the problem of gun violence in this country without addressing this particular issue," Cicilline said.
Cicilline, a former Providence, R.I. mayor, is a founding member of Mayors Against Illegal Guns and a member of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. "This bill will equip mental health professionals with the tools they need to report dangerous individuals into NICS to help keep our communities safe and prevent senseless gun violence."
Under current law, an individual struggling with severe mental illness is only federally disqualified from purchasing a gun if that person has been involuntary institutionalized through a legal process or adjudicated as mentally ill. Cicilline's legislation would expand the disqualifying mental health criteria, to prevent a person from purchasing a gun if a mental health professional determines that the individual is likely to cause serious harm to themselves or others.
The proposal would also encourage states to establish systems for mental health professionals to voluntarily report patients meeting strict dangerousness standards into the FBI's NICS system.
Cicilline's office notes that in the wake of shootings in Connecticut, Colorado and, most recently, California, there has been a growing number of states have adopted new mental health professional reporting requirements for their firearm prohibition databases. In addition, according to a recent report from Everytown for Gun Safety, since 2011, state governments have tripled the number of mental health records submitted to NICS.
Cicilline, 52, has a long record support gun control efforts. That goes back to his time serving in the legislature and then Providence mayor. In 2010, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence endorsed Cicilline; in 2000, the National Rifle Association awarded him an F- lifetime score.
Cicilline has also indicated his support for a ban on the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons, for more stringent state restrictions on the purchase and possession of firearms, and for a requirement that manufacturers equip firearms with child-safety locks. On Nov. 16, 2011, Cicilline spoke against the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act, which would "require all states to allow out-of-state visitors to carry concealed firearms as long as the laws of the visitors' home states allow them to do so."
Cicilline, then a freshman congressman, insisted that the Second Amendment had nothing to do with the bill. Rather, he said, it would infringe upon the right of state governments to protect the safety of their citizens, and would force communities to accept concealed-carry standards set by other states.