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Tipsheet

Bill Aims to Strengthen Records Reporting to Prevent Criminals from Buying Firearms

Eight senators are introducing a bipartisan bill known as the Fix NICS Act to reinforce current laws concerning background checks. The bill would ensure a person's criminal history is responsibly recorded to the existing background check system to prevent the individual from making gun purchases in the future.

The senators introducing the bill include Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N).

Following the horrific shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where a gunman murdered 26 people during a church service, the country was left to wonder how such a tragedy could have occurred. The debate over gun control was reignited and politicians and citizens alike were giving their opinions on how these mass shootings could be prevented in the future.

As more information emerged about the shooter, the public learned that he had a criminal past. The question of how a criminal guilty of domestic violence and abuse against his wife and child was able to pass a background check and purchase a rifle needed to be answered. To the public's dismay, the shooter was able to clear his background check and make his purchase because his criminal history had not been reported to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The United States Air Force, from which the shooter had been discharged for "bad conduct," neglected to report his criminal history to the FBI.

The legislation introduced by the senators looks to "penalize federal agencies who fail to properly report relevant records and incentivizes states to improve their overall reporting." The bill also "directs more federal funding to the accurate reporting of domestic violence records."

Sen. Cornyn had this to say about the bill:

For years agencies and states haven't complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence. Just one record that's not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas. This bill aims to help fix what's become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.

Sen. Murphy reiterated that this law would prevent thousands of criminals with violent intentions from making purchases:

This deal with strength the background check system and save lives. Our bill marks an important milestone that shows real compromise can be made on the issue of guns. I'm grateful that Senator Cornyn as such a strong partner and straightforward negotiator. It's no secret that I believe much more needs to be done. But this bill will make sure that thousands of dangerous people are prevented from buying guns. It represents the strongest update to the background checks system in a decade, and provides the foundation for more compromise in the future.

View the statements from Sens. Scott and Blumenthal below.

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