[JURIST] US Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile] told the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) [association website] Thursday that to keep guns away from the mentally ill, all states must upgrade their reporting [speech text] to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) [FBI backgrounder]. In giving his perspectives on violent crime to the NAAG 2007 Summer Meeting [agenda, PDF], Gonzales noted that only 23 states currently provide mental health records to the NICS, and that to be effective the database must be complete. Gonzales also spoke at length on how to best protect the public from convicted sex offenders, calling for increased aggression in prosecution and the start of a "national, zero-tolerance attitude towards pedophiles and sexual predators." Gonzales also asked the attorneys general to increase cooperation with Project Safe Childhood [official website], a campaign run by the US Department of Justice [official website] and the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children [advocacy website] to protect children from Internet based exploitation and abuse.
Last week, the US House of Representatives passed a bill [HR 2640 materials] that mandated improvements [JURIST report] in state reporting to the NICS. Had the NICS known that Virginia Tech shooter Seung-Hui Cho [Wikipedia profile] was under a court order [text] to undergo psychiatric treatment, he would have been barred from purchasing the guns he used in the attack. The Savannah Morning News has more.