Privacy fears grow as Obama weighs expanded gun-buyer database

by Roberta Rampton, Reuters  |  published on July 10, 2013

Obama
WASHINGTON | Mental health advocates are worried that the privacy of people who have received treatment for their illnesses could be jeopardized by a White House push to expand a database used to run background checks on gun buyers.

President Barack Obama said he wants to see state governments contribute more names of people barred from buying guns to the database, part of a sweeping set of executive actions he announced after a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in December.

The database, called the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is used by gun dealers to check whether a potential buyer is prohibited from owning a gun.

States are encouraged to report to the database the names of people who are not allowed to buy guns because they have been involuntarily committed to a mental hospital, or have been found to have serious mental illnesses by courts.

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