7 States Where You Can Probably Still Buy a Gun Even If You’re Mentally Ill

Recent mass shootings have increased activism nationwide and encouraged kids and adults alike to fight for stricter gun legislation, mental health background checks, and a safer country.

Still, state leaders have to fight for legislation that keeps their schools, movie theaters, and communities safe. These states have relaxed gun restrictions that potentially allow people who intend to cause harm access to firearms.

It’s not a federal requirement

Dana Loesch National Rifle Association Spokeswoman

Figures like Dana Loesch have tried to shift responsibility away from the NRA. | Alex Wong/Getty Images

“Do you know it is not federally required for states to actually report people who are prohibited possessors, crazy people, people who are murderers?” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said to the massive crowd at the BB&T Center.

“How was he able to pass a background check? He was able to pass a background check because we have a system that’s flawed,” she said in an effort to shirk the NRA’s responsibility in the matter.

Currently, federal law makes it illegal to sell guns to certain people with a history of mental illness, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. However, states aren’t required to report that information to federal databases, which makes it easy for dangerous individuals to still get their hands on a gun.

Next: This state doesn’t submit a sufficient number of mental health records.

1. New Hampshire

New Hampshire State House

New Hampshire has some lax gun laws. | Scott Eisen/Getty Images

A 2016 shooting that severely injured two policemen left politicians split over whether it should be required to report mental health records for background checks. The Everytown for Gun Safety report showed that New Hampshire was among four other states that submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Next: This state shirks the responsibility to submit health records as well.

2. Alaska

The beautiful view of Wrangell-St Elias National Park

The state has shared very few records with other states. | Z-lex/Getty Images

Alaska showed only 54 mental health records submitted following the shooting at Sandy Hook. The state’s law as of January 2018 reads that a person who can’t possess a firearm due to “involuntary commitment or an adjudication of mental illness” in Alaska may at any time be “move[d] to be relieved from the disability.”

Alaska has a large hunting community. It’s also considered America’s “final frontier” and has significantly more uncivilized, animal-driven land than any other U.S. state. Still, Alaska enforces little gun legislation other than what the federal government does. There’s no permit required to carry a concealed weapon.

NextFew people in this Western state will have trouble buying guns. 

3. Montana

Helena, MT

Montana residents generally have no trouble buying guns. | Visit Helena Montana via Facebook

A license to carry a concealed weapon may be denied to a Montana resident who has been found in criminal or civil court to be mentally ill, disordered, or disabled. This means that any mentally ill, potentially harmful person who poses a threat but has not been charged in a court of law could still buy a gun.

In the year following the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary, the state of Montana only submitted three records of mentally ill persons to the NICS.

Next: Nearly anyone can own a gun in this state.

4. Wyoming

Jackson, Wyoming

Just about anyone can own a gun in Wyoming. | Town of Jackson via Facebook

Wyoming was among the states that submitted less than 100 mental health records in one year. The state, which submitted only four, allows anyone to possess a firearm manufactured in Wyoming within the state’s borders unless they fall into two categories.

These include those legally deemed incompetent or committed to a mental institution.

NextThis state has relaxed concealed-carry laws

5. Oklahoma

Oklahoma City area on a map

In Oklahoma, residents don’t need a permit to carry a concealed weapon. | iStock.com/Manakin

Oklahoma instituted stricter regulations following mass shootings. The state made it illegal for anyone to knowingly provide a gun to someone deemed mentally incompetent or “unsound” as well as someone found “emotionally unbalanced.” However, that doesn’t help with their low count of background check submissions.

Oklahoma is also among a dozen states that have relaxed concealed-carry laws. According to the NRA’s website, they don’t require a permit to carry a concealed weapon.

Next: This state has experienced obstacles trying to fund mental health record submissions.

6. Vermont

Stowe, Vermont

Vermont has some of the loosest gun laws in the country. | DonLand/iStock/Getty Images

The state of Vermont has faced funding, logistical, and privacy issues when it comes to submitting mental health records. The state submitted only 25 in a year at one point. However, a Vermont government official remained optimistic the state would have to submit reports as the Justice Department debated penalizing those that missed targets under the NICS Improvement Act.

In Vermont, you do not need a permit to own or carry a concealed handgun, rifle, or shotgun.

Next: This state has high rates of crime guns sold

7. Kansas

The Kansas state capitol building is located in downtown Topeka on land donated by the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad company. Construction began in 1866 and was officially completed 37 years later in 1903 at a total cost of just over 3.2 million dollars. The building is over 300 feet tall and is 17 feet taller than the U.S. Capitol building in Washington D.C.

Kansas has a problem with out-of-state gun buyers. | fotoguy22/iStock/Getty Images

Similar to Vermont, you do not need a permit to own or carry a concealed handgun, rifle, or shotgun in Kansas. In 2016 Kansas had 1) the 19th highest rate of crime guns sold and used in other states and 2) supplied more than twice as many crime guns to other states than it imported.

The state does not require firearm dealers obtain a state license, limit the number of firearms an individual can buy at one time, or require a permit for adults 21+ to carry a concealed handgun in public.

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