Senators Introduce Bi-partisan Gun Safety Bill

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., center, and Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., left, arrive on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, as lawmakers gather for a predawn vote to advance the nomination of Education Secretary-designate Betsy DeVos. Despite vigorous opposition from Democrats, the Republican-led Senate voted 52-48 to cut off debate before dawn Friday morning, setting the stage for a final confirmation vote next week. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

A bi-partisan group of senators introduced a new bill on Monday in an effort to address a known communication problem between federal and state law enforcement when someone in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) “lies and tries” to purchase a gun when they aren’t legally allowed to do so.

Senators Marco Rubio (R – Fl.), Pat Toomey (R – Pa.), Chris Coons (D – De.), and Bill Nelson (D – Fl.) introduced the NICS Denial Notification Act, which will require federal authorities to alert law enforcement when an individual who is not legally allowed to possess a gun tries to purchase one anyway.

In a statement released by Sen. Marco Rubio’s office, it explains:

In the 13 states that run their own background checks using the FBI’s NICS system, state authorities are aware when prohibited persons fail background checks and can have state law enforcement 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, state authorities generally are not aware when prohibited persons fail background checks run by the FBI.

“The NICS Denial Notification Act would not only require federal authorities to flag background check denials for state-level authorities, it would also hold these federal officials accountable,” said Rubio. “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.”

“This NICS Denial Notification Act requires the FBI to notify state law enforcement within 24 hours when a person who is prohibited from getting a gun, such as convicted felon, lies about their background in an attempt to buy one. That is, in itself, a federal felony and it goes almost entirely unprosecuted now,” said Toomey.

About the NICS Denial Notification Act

  • Requires federal authorities to alert state law enforcement of background checks denials, so that state authorities can decide whether to investigate, prosecute, and/or keep an eye on these denied individuals for signs of future criminal activity.
  • Requires DOJ to publish an annual report with statistics about its prosecution of background check denial cases, so Congress and voters can hold federal officials accountable.
  • Endorsed by: Fraternal Order of Police; Major Cities Chiefs Police Association; Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association; National District Attorneys Association; National Domestic Violence Hotline; National Coalition Against Domestic Violence; Everytown for Gun Safety; Giffords

This is a necessary and relatively easy fix to an issue we knew existed before the Parkland shooter murdered 17 people.