11.16.17

Senator Lankford Co-sponsors Legislation to Strengthen Background Check System for Firearms Purchases

WASHINGTON – Senator James Lankford (R-OK) today joined Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Murphy (D-CT), and others to introduce the bipartisan Fix NICS Act, a bill to ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill penalizes 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. Text of the Fix NICS Act is downloadable here.

“In some instances, we are not getting the appropriate information into our background check system,” said Lankford. “In order to reduce gun violence and protect lives, we should have an efficient background check system to ensure that firearms don’t into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.”

“For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” said Cornyn. “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.”

“This deal will strengthen 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 was such a strong partner and straightforward negotiator,” said Murphy. “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.”

Details of the Fix NICS Act

  • Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to verify the accuracy of records.
  • Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees.  
  • Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans.
  • Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS.
  • Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law.
  • Provides important technical assistance to federal agencies and states who are working to comply with NICS record-sharing requirements.

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