Gun restrictions to target mental health outpatients

The Obama administration has announced measures aimed at limiting access to firearms for the citizens with mental health issues. In a statement released on Friday, the White House said the two new actions “will help strengthen the federal background check system and keep guns out of the wrong hands”.
The first proposed regulation, from the Department of Justice, aims to clarify who is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm for reasons related to mental health.
That change includes clarifying the term “committed to a mental institution” to include involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments, the White House said.
The second proposed action, brought by the Department of Health and Human Services, lifts certain privacy provisions preventing states from forwarding relevant information to the background check system.
The proposed changes follow the one-year anniversary of the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, in which 20 children and six school staff members were killed.
The perpetrator is believed to have had severe mental health issues at the time of the crime.
Mr Obama proposed several federal gun control measures in the wake of the shooting, including tightening the background check system to make it harder for convicted criminals to buy guns, but Congress declined to act.
He has continued to press Congress for further restrictions, although sceptics note that if the murder of 20 children failed to goad Congress to action, it is unclear what could.

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