• FOX13 investigates mental health screening for gun owners

    By: Kristin Leigh


    MEMPHIS, Tenn. - Someone who is turned away from the armed forces for mental health concerns can own a gun, given current mental health screening for gun owners in the U.S.

    A gun salesman in Memphis told FOX13 the current background check system in the U.S. does not do enough to screen someone’s mental health. 

    Jay Hill owns “Classic Arms of Cordova” on Germantown Parkway. 

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    “I’m a gun dealer, but I don’t want someone buying a gun that has mental issues,” Jay Hill said, adding that he’s not a physician. “I can’t determine that.”

    Hill said he supports health screening to keep guns out of dangerous hands, but the current system doesn’t allow it. 

    “There’s no way for me to know that,” Hill said. 

    Current background checks only deny guns to people who are determined as a “mental defective” by a judge, or to people who have been “formally committed” by a “lawful authority” to a mental institution. 

    To get an idea of what an exhaustive health screening would require, FOX13 looked at the U.S. Military’s extensive health screening process. 

    A 52-page document from the Department of Defense outlines medical screening required to enter the U.S. Armed Forces. 

    The screening includes a section titled “Learning, Psychiatric and Behavioral Screening.”
    Applicants are asked to disclose everything from learning, sleeping and eating disorders, to a history of anxiety, depression, suicidal behavior, or mood disorders such as Bipolar Disorder. 

    “The 19-year-old kid that committed this never tried entering the military,” Hill said. “That has nothing to do with this.”

    The massacre in Florida this week has reignited the debate about mental health screening for gun owners. 

    The gunman in Florida, Nikolas Cruz, purchased a rifle legally, despite his attorney’s describing a lifelong battle with mental illness and depression. 

    There are a number of items that would disqualify a customer from owning a gun:  a felony conviction, a history of domestic violence, no U.S. citizenship, etc. 

    Had Cruz walked into Hill’s shop, the background check would not raise a red flag. 

    “It’s a red light, green light,” Hill said. “It doesn’t tell us why a customer is denied. It just tells us, ‘You cannot sell this gun.’”

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