Gun background checks to be reviewed

Jan. 26, 2011 at 3:17 PM
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WASHINGTON, Jan. 26 (UPI) -- The effectiveness of U.S. laws meant to keep guns from the mentally ill will be reviewed in a meeting of congressional and administration staffers, aides said.

The meeting Thursday will focus on whether the federal system of background checks works as it should to block sales to the mentally ill and other groups legally barred from owning firearms, a Republican aide told The Hill in an interview published Wednesday.

Judiciary Committee staffers from both parties were expected to attend, as well as officials from the FBI and possibly the Justice Department, the aide said.

The meeting was called three weeks after a shooting in Arizona killed a federal judge and left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., with a brain injury. Six people died and 13 people were injured in the Jan. 8 incident outside of a Tucson grocery store.

Staff at Thursday's meeting will consider the effectiveness of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, an FBI-run database created in 1993, The Hill reported.

Current law requires licensed gun dealers to screen potential buyers through the system to ensure they don't fit one of the categories -- felons, illegal immigrants, spousal abusers and the mentally ill -- barred from buying firearms. However, the system is largely voluntary, as states are encouraged, but not required, to report information to NICS.

Proponents of reforming gun laws expressed disappointment that President Obama did not speak about gun violence during Tuesday's State of the Union address before a joint session of Congress.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the lack of discussion in the State of the Union "doesn't necessarily mean that it's not something that people will work on."

"That having been said, I wouldn't rule out that at some point the president talks about the issues surrounding gun violence," Gibbs said.

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