Last night comedian and late night talk show host Stephen Colbert falsely stated that the NRA is "opposed to mental health checks," during an interview and discussion with GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush.
Colbert's statement just isn't true. In fact, the NRA has worked for 50 years to strengthen the mental health system.
Since 1966, the National Rifle Association has urged the federal government to address the problem of mental illness and violence. As we noted then, “the time is at hand to seek means by which society can identify, treat and temporarily isolate such individuals,” because “elimination of the instrument by which these crimes are committed cannot arrest the ravages of a psychotic murderer.”
More recently, the NRA has supported legislation to ensure that appropriate records of those who have been judged mentally incompetent or involuntarily committed to mental institutions be made available for use in firearms transfer background checks. The NRA will support any reasonable step to fix America’s broken mental health system without intruding on the constitutional rights of Americans.
In January 2008, President George W. Bush signed the bipartisan “NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007.” The NRA-supported legislation created incentives for states to upgrade their procedures for timely and accurate reporting of records—including mental health records—to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. All federal firearm licensees are required to check the system (either directly or through a state point of contact) before proceeding with a sale. To accomplish this task, the legislation authorized federal grants to states that improve their record keeping and supply those records to NICS, while also developing procedures under which people who have recovered from mental illness can get their firearms rights restored.
To support state cooperation in providing records, the NRA has worked with lawmakers in many states to pass legislation to implement the federal law. Passage of such legislation, along with other administrative and policy changes at the state level, has allowed states to provide hundreds of thousands of mental health records to NICS since 2008.
Further, since the 1960s laws on the books have banned individuals who have been legally adjudicated for mental health problems from purchasing a firearm.
In addition to efforts made by the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation has been successful in compelling states to properly and regularly enter mental health records into the federal, FBI firearm instant background check system, known as NICS, in order to prevent mentally ill people from purchasing firearms.
Statements about the NRA or other pro-gun organizations opposing "mental health checks," are blatant lies, especially considering the significant amount of work these organizations do and have done for years to improve the mental health system.