This report takes a look at the state of the background check system in the wake of the most lethal gun crime in American history -- one with direct relevance to the troubles with the background check system. An illegal buyer, Seung-Hui Cho, was able to pass a background check because his data was missing from the system. He purchased two firearms which he used to kill 32 people and wound 29 others at Virginia Tech University.
In this report, we conclude that the background check system is better and more accurate than five years ago, but still deeply flawed, particularly in certain areas like mental health disqualifications. Dangerous holes in the system remain because states have not adequately completed the important tasks of collecting and automating all of the records necessary to disqualify illegal gun buyers from passing a check to obtain a firearm. On the positive side, the records of those who have committed felony crimes or have directed violence toward women have shown significant improvement. On the negative side, it is still virtually impossible to stop a person who has been involuntarily committed to a mental institution from passing a background check and buying a gun.