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Delaware enacts new background screening legislation for prospective firearms owners

Jul 19, 2011 Matt Roesly

Delaware Governor Jack Markell recently passed House Bill 28, which requires state agencies to provide more information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System to determine whether a buyer is eligible to purchase a gun. Before the bill was ratified, the state was not obligated to submit certain information to the database, such as whether a person has a history of mental illness. However, under the new background investigation measures, facts such as this will be required to be reported in order to help the state comply with a federal law that bans those who have been committed to mental institutions from owning a gun. The bill, which was sponsored by Representative Valerie Longhurst, a Democrat from Bear, was inspired by the Virginia Tech shooting spree carried out by Seung-Hui Cho in April 2007. Cho had a history of depression and was diagnosed with a rare anxiety disorder called selective mutism as a child. In 2005, Virginia's New River Valley Community Services Board recommended that he be hospitalized, The New York Times reported shortly after the massacre. "I'm confident that these measures will cumulatively make a difference in our communities," Markell said in a statement.