Hastings Urges DOJ to Support FL Dept. of Law Enforcement’s Efforts to Update the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) with Disqualifying Mental Health Records
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings sent the following letter to the U.S. Department of Justice requesting funds for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) Mental Competency (MECOM) Database. These funds would be used to update the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Indices with disqualifying mental health records.
May 16, 2018
Dear Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Hanson:
I write in support of the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s (FDLE) request for funds to support the Mental Competency (MECOM) Database in Florida. These funds would be used to establish a pilot program that would ascertain the existence of disqualifying mental health records that would then be entered into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Indices in a timely manner.
In Florida, Clerks of Court are required to submit criminal court dispositions and mental health records that would disqualify an individual from purchasing or possessing a firearm. A 2016 report issued by Florida’s Inspector General found that 17 percent of mental health records were being reported late. This report showed that some records had still not been reported a year after a final disposition finding that an individual had a disqualifying mental health condition.
As I am sure you are aware, Floridians have suffered multiple mass shootings in the past two years with the most recent mass shooting occurring on February 14, 2018 at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. That shooting left 14 students and 3 teachers dead at the hands of a shooter who was able to too easily acquire a weapon of war. It is imperative that these databases are updated on a regular basis and without delay, so that they can be relied upon in what should be everyone’s endeavor to keep firearms out of the hands of those who wish to do harm to others.
I respectfully request your full and fair consideration of the FDLE’s grant application. If you should have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office at (202) 225-1313.
Alcee L. Hastings
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings serves as Senior Member of the House Rules Committee, Ranking Democratic Member of the U.S. Helsinki Commission, and Co-Chairman of the Florida Delegation.