Two Republicans representing the Sunshine State on Capitol Hill—U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio and U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart–are backing the “NICS Denial Notification Act,” a proposal which “would require federal authorities to alert state and local law enforcement within 24 hours when an ineligible individual lies on a background check and tries to purchase a firearm.”
U.S. Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., introduced the U.S. Senate version this week with the support of Rubio and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper, D-Del., Susan Collins, R-Maine, John Cornyn, R-Texas, Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., James Lankford, R-Okla., and Joe Manchin, D-WV.
“Federal officials are notified when individuals who are legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm (such as convicted felons) try to buy a gun but fail a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check. These attempted purchases often violate federal and state laws. Unfortunately, the federal government rarely prosecutes any of these individuals,” Rubio’s office noted. “In the 13 states that run their own background checks, state authorities are already aware when prohibited persons fail a background check, and local law enforcement can then investigate these cases. However, in the 37 states and the District of Columbia that rely on the FBI to run some or all of their background checks, local authorities generally are not aware when a person in their area fails a background check. Individuals who are willing to ‘lie and try’ to buy a gun may be dangerous and more likely to obtain guns through other means. As a result, these states and D.C. lack crucial law enforcement intelligence to keep their communities safe.”
The bill would have the federal government contact state agencies when background checks are denied to follow up to investigate. The bill would also have the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) report on its prosecutions of background check denial cases.
“We have seen too many tragic instances where an individual who should not have been able to obtain a gun used a firearm to commit horrible acts of violence,” Coons said. “Gun violence continues to plague our communities in Delaware and across the country, and the NICS Denial Notification Act is one common sense step in the effort to prevent these terrible crimes. Ensuring that federal and state law enforcement work together to stop those who are prohibited from buying a gun from getting one will help make our neighborhoods safer. This is exactly the sort of bipartisan step Congress should be able to support.”
“Our nation has experienced far too many tragedies as a result of multi-systematic failures of communication,” Rubio said. “The NICS Denial Notification Act would help ensure that federal and state authorities are successfully communicating with one another when it comes to dangerous individuals’ prohibited attempts to acquire firearms. This would be a strong step forward in preventing future tragedies. I urge my colleagues to immediately support this bipartisan legislation so that the president can swiftly sign it into law.”
Coons’ bill was sent to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
Over in the U.S. House, U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley, D-Ill., introduced the companion measure with the support of Diaz-Balart and U.S. Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-Penn., and Eric Swalwell, D-Calif.
“Over the past year, we’ve seen gun violence spike in cities across the country. Now more than ever, ensuring all levels of law enforcement – federal, state and local – are able to communicate effectively, we can prevent firearms from getting into the hands of convicted felons and domestic abusers,” said Quigley. “The NICS Denial Notification Act is common sense, bipartisan legislation that will play a key role in the fight to prevent needless gun violence.”
“Every year, thousands of convicted felons, fugitives, and others who are barred from owning a weapon attempt to purchase one by lying on their background checks, yet local law enforcement is rarely alerted of these acts,” said Diaz-Balart. “This bipartisan, commonsense bill increases protections for our communities and provides our law enforcement officers with the tools needed to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands. I am proud to join Reps. Quigley, Fitzpatrick, and Swalwell in introducing this critical piece of legislation and I urge House leadership to swiftly bring this bill to the floor for a vote.”
The bill was sent to the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.
The Fraternal Order of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords are all backing the proposal.
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