La. court disputes numbers in guns, mental health report _lowres

Associated Press photo by Mike Hutmacher -- A quick access handgun safe

The state Supreme Court is disputing a report that says Louisiana is one of a dozen states that sent less than 100 mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

In 2013, when state courts weren’t required to submit mental health reports to NICS, Louisiana sent in 114 of the reports, Supreme Court spokeswoman Valerie Willard said. As of Jan. 1, state law requires courts to submit the reports to NICS. During the first quarter, Louisiana submitted 235 mental health reports.

A report from Everytown for Gun Safety released Thursday said Louisiana had submitted only four mental health records to the background check system since 2011.

Willard said she had no idea where Everytown came up with its numbers.

“It’s totally random. What I’ve told you is just first quarter 2014,” Willard said.

Everytown officials were not immediately available for comment.

The Everytown report, said to be based on FBI data, shows that the number of mental health records in the NICS has tripled in less than three years. The increase in those records also led to increases in blocking 65 percent more mentally ill individuals from buying guns.

Prospective gun buyers have to pass background checks in order to buy from licensed dealers under federal law. The process takes around 90 seconds, according to Everytown, and each year the system blocks thousands of seriously mentally ill people from purchasing guns. However, many states failed to provide mental health records for decades, and some still lag behind in the practice.

According to Everytown. Alaska and Hawaii submitted one apiece.

Meanwhile, Pennsylvania went from one mental health record in 2011 to 676,968; New Jersey, from 15 to 411,879.

Everytown for Gun Safety is the largest gun-violence prevention group in the country with more than 1.5 million supporters.

Everytown issued a statement late Thursday afternoon saying the FBI figures were correct but included results only through Nov. 30.

The new state reporting law is having the positive effect expected, according to Everytown. And the increase in Louisiana is encouraging; however, on a population-adjusted basis, the number of mental health records submitted remain negligible compared to those submitted by high-performing states.