The HHS Office for Civil Rights has issued a request for information as it prepares to promulgate a rule to lift legal barriers related to the HIPAA privacy rule that may prevent states from reporting mental health information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

Abbreviated as NICS, the system is used to prevent felons, those convicted of domestic violence and individuals with serious mental illnesses from buying guns. But a Government Accountability Office report in 2012 found that 17 states have submitted less than 10 records of individuals prohibited from owning a gun for mental health reasons.

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