Criminal record top reason for U.S. gun-check rejection

Tuesday, January 15, 2013 - 11:33am

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- More than a million people failed background checks to buy guns during the past 14 years because of criminal records, drug use or mental health issues, according to FBI figures.

But only about 1 percent of federal background checks are rejected.

Nearly 60 percent of those failing background checks, or nearly 578,000 people, were rejected because of a felony or serious misdemeanor conviction, according to information on the FBI website that was updated this month.

Federally-licensed gun sellers are not allowed to sell a firearm without a completed review by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Statistics show about 1 percent of applicants who failed a background check, or 10,180 people, were turned down for reasons related to mental health.

Involuntary commitment to a psychiatric institution or an inability to manage personal affairs are reasons why someone would be rejected for mental health reasons.

Vice President Joe Biden has led a task force that is recommending proposals to President Barack Obama this week to stem gun violence. One focus of the current debate is whether more can be done in the mental health area.

FBI statistics show that 143,852 would-be gun buyers were turned down for domestic violence convictions or because they were subjected to a restraining order related to domestic violence issues, like stalking or making threats.

More than 94,000 fugitives with warrants for their arrest were not allowed to buy guns.

People with a history of drug addiction accounted for almost 81,000 denials.

Almost 12,000 illegal immigrants also did not pass background checks to buy firearms.

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