Voluntary Purchase Delay to Prevent Suicide Act

 

Background

 

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and

Prevention (CDC), there were 45,979 deaths by suicide in 2020 alone. That is one death every 11 minutes.

This problem is even more devastating for people ages 10-14 and 25-34—making up the second leading cause

of death for these age-groups. Suicide is also particularly endemic among veterans. Approximately 20 veterans

die by suicide each day.

Far and away, firearms are the most common method leading to death by suicide in the United States,

accounting for 50 percent of all suicide deaths. This is compared to only 13 percent of suicide attempts by

poisonings that resulted in death. In a study conducted by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health,

approximately 85 percent of suicide attempts with a firearm result in death, as opposed to drug overdose, which

is fatal in less than 3 percent of cases.

Several states have implemented reforms to help reduce firearm-related suicides—including Utah, Virginia, and

Washington. These state-enacted laws allow people to voluntarily add themselves to a “do-not-sell” list that

would restrict them from purchasing a firearm. Addition and removal from the list are entirely voluntary.

 

Proposed Solution

 

Amends 18 U.S.C § 925A to require the Attorney General to establish and maintain a secure, internet-

based, platform, that is separate from other criminal background check systems. This would be known as

the Voluntary Purchase Delay Database.

Lawful requests to the NICS Database system for firearm purchases will include a search

through the Voluntary Purchase Delay Database and will restrict a transfer of a firearm to the

prospective transferee;

An individual wishing to register their name with the Voluntary Purchase Delay Database will be

able to verify their identity and add their names by:

Providing necessary documentation in person; or

Providing the necessary documentation by mail or electronic mail that is accompanied by

a letter from a mental health professional (including the name and license number of the

professional and the name and date of birth of the individual registering with the

database).

 

An individual that has requested to register with the database will receive prior notice of the legal

effect of having their name included in the Database and would be allowed to list up to 5 email

addresses that would be notified if the individual attempts to purchase a firearm or requests

removal from the list.

 

Prohibits the registration to the database to be used as evidence or as a condition of employment or

receiving a benefit or service.

Permits an individual to be removed from the Database within 21 days after the date of the request is

received and if the removal request is supported by a declaration from a mental health professional.

Permits an individual to add or remove themselves from the database as many times as they wish.

Amends 18 U.S.C § 922(d) and 18 U.S.C § 922(t) to incorporate the Voluntary Purchase Delay

Database into the NICS Database system.

Requires the Attorney General, the CDC, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Suicide

Prevention Lifeline, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and the Division

of Behavioral Health of the Indian Health Services to develop an education and outreach campaign

regarding the Voluntary Purchase Delay Database.