The Federal Bureau of Investigation released data on the number of records each state has submitted to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System Index.
In a letter issued in January, U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch informed the governors of the individual states that the FBI would be releasing this information in the near future.
The NICS Index is one of three national databases NICS investigators search when conducting background checks, and was specifically created for use by the background check system “and contains descriptive information on persons determined to be disqualified from possessing a firearm” under state and federal law, according to an FBI press release.
According to the release, NICS also searches the Interstate Identification Index, which has criminal history records, and the National Crime Information Center, which holds records like warrants and protection orders.
But the NICS Index — which “is the logical location to share adjudicated mental health data” if allowed by law — contains “prohibiting information that may not be found in the III or the NCIC,” the release said.
The release explained that local, state, federal and tribal governmental entities voluntarily contribute information to the NICS Index, and the contributing agencies are “responsible for the accuracy and validity of the information” submitted. As such, the federal agency said they expect additions, deletions and modifications to occur “on an ongoing basis.”
According to the numbers, there are a total of 4.3 million adjudicated mental health records nationwide, 2.2 million felony records, 6.7 million illegal alien records and more than 494,000 fugitive from justice records, among other listings.
While most states had mental health records listed in at least the thousands, several had reported mental health adjudication records in the hundreds, and even in single digits.
Some of the states with the lowest number of adjudicated mental health records include Montana, with 3, New Hampshire, with 2, Wyoming, with 4, and Alaska, with 93.
Last fall the FBI suspended the processing of NICS denial appeals when it repurposed its appeals office investigators to help deal with the surging numbers of background checks nationwide.
FBI Assistant Director Stephen Morris told USA Today in January that inconsistent and incomplete state crime and mental health data, voluntarily submitted by states, was one reason for the backlog.
Lynch’s January letter explained to governors that more complete reporting of criminal and mental health histories by the states to the FBI could help them run more complete background checks.