Right now, millions of records are missing from the various databases that make up the National Instant Background Check Systems. Many states do not have the necessary resources to upload criminal history and prohibitor records, which has allowed individuals
to slip through the cracks. This continues to be a serious problem, as states are still not submitting adequate numbers of records to make the system work as intended.
The intent of the NICS Improvement Amendments Act – to ensure there are sufficient resources to provide accurate and timely data about those prohibited from possessing firearms– cannot be carried out unless NICS is adequately funded. That’s why overwhelmingly approved a bipartisan amendment to the Commerce-Justice-Science bill to increase funding for this.
Our letter funding for Fiscal Year 2020 to ensure NICS has complete and timely information to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who cannot safely and legally possess them while also ensuring that individuals’ Second Amendment rights are not violated.
For more information or to sign, please contact
Jennifer Goedke (Rep. Thompson, 5-3311).
PETER T. KING
BRIAN K. FITZPATRICK
ROBIN L. KELLY
CHRISTOPHER H. SMITH
April 1, 2019
The Honorable José E. Serrano The Honorable Robert Aderholt
Chairman Ranking Member
House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science and Related Agencies Science and Related Agencies
H-307, The Capitol 1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Serrano and Ranking Member Aderholt:
As the Committee begins writing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, we respectfully request funding for implementation of the National Instant Background Check Systems (NICS) Improvement Amendments
Act of 2007 (Pub. L. No. 110-180) at a $100 million level. The Act provides for grants to states to upgrade their electronic databases, incentives for states to transmit electronic records to NICS, penalties for states that do not comply, and requirements
for keeping NICS up-to-date, including the removal of obsolete or erroneous records. The Act also provides financial incentives for states to develop “relief from disabilities” procedures for persons who have lost the right to possess a firearm due to a mental
health adjudication or commitment but are later determined not to pose a danger to public safety.
As you are aware, the Gun Control Act of 1968 (Pub. L. No. 90-618) precludes certain persons, including felons, those adjudicated mentally ill, illegal aliens, drug abusers, and those under a restraining order, from purchasing or possessing firearms. The
only way to enforce these requirements effectively is to ensure that NICS has up-to-date records from state and federal sources. At present, millions of records are currently missing from the various databases that make up NICS. Many states do not have the
resources necessary to implement the technology to automate criminal history and mental health records, which has allowed persons otherwise prohibited from purchasing or owning firearms to do so in violation of federal law. This remains a serious problem because
many states still do not submit adequate numbers of mental health and criminal records to make NICS work as intended.
The intent of NICS Improvement Amendments Act is to ensure there are sufficient resources to provide accurate and timely data about persons prohibited from possessing firearms. This cannot be achieved absent adequate funding for NICS. In fact, demand for
this funding is increasing every year and we must provide adequate funding to meet this growing need. While the Act authorized a combined total of $1.125 billion from FY 2009 through FY 2013, a total of only $63.567 million was appropriated during that time.
We fully understand the current constraints on the federal budget and appropriations process. Keeping people safe, however, must be Congress’s top priority. The NICS Improvement Amendments Act has been severely underfunded in years past, and the-all-too-frequent
tragedies across our Nation unfortunately show that gun violence is still a very serious issue that plagues our country. Ensuring NICS has complete and timely information to keep firearms out of the hands of persons who cannot safely and legally possess them
while at the same time protecting Americans’ Second Amendment rights will save lives. Consequently, we respectfully urge the Committee to fund the NICS Improvement Amendments Act at a level that at minimum of $100 million.