Historically many states have been inefficient at submitting important mental health and other necessary information the National Instant Criminal Background Check System [NICS], which screens individuals purchasing firearms. This leaves the background check system with incomplete information, allowing some people who aren't eligible to purchase a firearm to do so.
For years the National Shooting Sports Foundation has dedicated enormous resources to their FixNICS program, which encourages states to "report to NICS all records that establish someone is prohibited from owning a firearm under current law."
"FBI NICS databases are incomplete because many states have not provided all records that establish someone is prohibited from owning a firearm under current law, especially including mental health adjudications and involuntary commitments orders," FixNICS.org states.
More information from NSSF:
Federally licensed retailers are required to run a background check through the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)i when transferring a firearm to an individual. Firearms retailers rely on NICS to ensure the lawful transfer of firearms to law-abiding citizens. Over 208 million NICS background checks have been conducted from Nov. 30, 1998 through March 31, 2015; more than 21 million were conducted in 2013 alone.
However, a background check is only as good as the records in the database. That is why the firearms industry supports improving the current NICS system by increasing the number of prohibiting records states submit to the FBI databases, helping to prevent illegal transfers of firearms to those who are prohibited from owning firearms under current law. Including these missing records will help ensure more accurate and complete background checks.
States must improve the NICS database by submitting any and all records establishing an individual is a prohibited person, such as mental health records showing someone is an "adjudicated mental defective" or involuntarily committed to a mental institute, as well as records showing someone is the subject of a domestic violence protective order, a drug addict or subject to another prohibited category.ii
The firearms industry has a long record of supporting background checks.iii The NSSF-supported background checks prior to the passage in 1993 of the Brady Act that created a background check system and NICS in 1998. The existing background check system must be fixed, however, before Congress even considers whether to expand background checks, otherwise we'll just have more incomplete and inaccurate checks.
Now that states are improving their reporting practices thanks to NSSF's efforts, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg's anti-gun Everytown For Gun Safety (which regularly partners with Moms Demand Action) is falsely claiming credit for the improvement: From Guns.com:
The number of prohibiting mental health records in the federal background check database has increased, but several states are still not submitting all of their documents, according to an analysis of FBI data released Thursday by Everytown for Gun Safety.
There are eight states – Alaska, Massachusetts, Montana, New Hampshire, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Vermont and Wyoming – that have submitted less than 100 of their records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Despite the arguably low level of compliance by these states, Everytown said the number of total prohibitive health records submitted to the Federal Bureau of Investigation increased by 5 percent during the last six months of 2014.
The group argues that when states submit records of mental health to the FBI, it can prevent someone who shouldn’t have a gun from legally obtaining one.
Nice try, Shannon Watts. The so-called "gun lobby" and gun industry are doing the hard, real work to strengthen the background check system, not anti-gun advocates.
"Unfortunately, Everytown continues to take credit for the tremendous success that the firearms industry has experienced passing legislation since the inception of its FixNICS campaign over 2 years ago," NSSF Director of State Affairs tells Townhall. "The industry dedicated resources, public relations efforts, and consultants on the ground ?in numerous states in order to achieve these successes while Everytown simply pushed out press releases accepting credit after the fact."