PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) - Last week's shooting in Newtown has highlighted the debate over gun control and mental health.
In 2007, the Virginia Tech shooting left 33 people dead, and prompted federal legislation to encourage states to submit records to the federal background check system.
The gunman in the Virginia Tech shooting had previously been found mentally ill and ordered treatment, but that information didn't make it into the national data base used to screen prospective gun purchases.
Eyewitness News did some digging to find out how Rhode Island shares that vital information.
According to Rhode Island State Police, Rhode Island has not submitted any records to the federal system since 2011.
The backlog is blamed on an out of date software system, but we've learned a 60-thousand dollar upgrade has been approved by the state and will help streamline the system.
Still standing in the way are the HIPAA laws, which as of now provide a stiff road block for the Department of Behavioral health and the Department of Corrections from sharing records.
The Department of Behavioral Health tells Eyewitness news, only individuals who are red-flagged are those deemed mentally ill by the court system.
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