The Federal Bureau of Investigation's (FBI) internal process for firearms-related background checks is gearing up for a change. A secondary system, known as the National Data Exchange (N-DEx), will be implemented in conjunction with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), National Public Radio (NPR) reported.
"The N-DEx system is an unclassified national information sharing system that enables criminal justice agencies to search, link, analyze, and share local, state, tribal, and federal records," the FBI's website said. "N-DEx is also a strategic investigative information sharing system that fills informational gaps and provides situational awareness."
N-DEx is being implemented because of previous NICS failures, particularly in the Charleston church shooting incident where 21-year-old shooter Dylann Roof was able to purchase a firearm two months before the shooting despite having a felony drug arrest on his record. That arrest should have barred him from purchasing a firearm.
Although NICS turned up the arrest, not enough information was provided to automatically deny the purchase. The FBI was supposed to find the actual report but "several clerical errors kept that from happening within the three-day waiting period," NPR reported.
The N-DEx system, with its access to over 400 million records, is supposed to be another deterrent to keep criminals from getting their hands on firearms.
"It's amazing it's taken more than three years before an initial step can be taken by the FBI," said attorney Andy Savage, who represents multiple families from the Charleston shooting. "There is no excuse under any circumstances for Dylann Roof to have ever gotten a weapon. The facts are egregious."
It's unclear when N-DEx will be fully implemented but the process is expected to take between nine months and two years.