Massachusetts seems to think its gun laws are strong enough to protect it from the types of mass killings that have struck other states. But it’s taking an enormous risk by failing to provide mental-health records to a federal database for background checks on gun buyers. It’s urgent that lawmakers embrace House Speaker Robert DeLeo’s extensive package of new gun-control measures, including closing the mental-health loophole .
The state’s resistance to federal reporting requirements for patients with serious mental illness is based on privacy concerns and fear of stigmatizing the mentally ill. But the database is private, and its contents are irrelevant to everyone except gun purchasers. And while few mental health problems correlate with violence, some do, and using that information to prevent gun purchases by the wrong people serves a legitimate public interest.