EXCLUSIVE: Millions of records added to federal background check system following passage of 2018 ‘Fix NICS’ bill

· August 7, 2019  
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Polymer handgun and paperwork to purchase it on a beige counter
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It’s been just over a year since President Trump signed legislation passed by a GOP-controlled Congress designed to better enforce existing gun background check laws. So what’s changed so far?

According to exclusive numbers obtained from a Department of Justice official by Blaze Media, implementation of the 2018 “Fix NICS Act” has led to the addition of millions of previously unreported records to America’s gun background check system.

The data show a total increase of almost six million additional records added across the three databases searched during a standard National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) check over the 14-month period between April 2018 and June 2019.

In the same time period, there was also a 13 percent increase of records in the NICS Indices database, which  contains records provided by local, state, tribal, and federal agencies about prohibited persons and is a key record source for disqualifying mental health and illegal immigration records.

The Fix NICS Act was passed in March 2018 and aimed to increase compliance with federal background check laws by providing additional reporting resources, imposing penalties on federal agencies that fail to comply and promoting state-level compliance through incentives and public reporting of those who don’t comply.

The DOJ numbers also indicate that the department has now received implementation plans from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 71 federal agencies. The plans are meant to evaluate and improve current NICS reporting practices.

The goal of the Fix NICS bill was to address insufficient state, local, tribal, and federal agency reporting to the current background check system. The effort gained more traction after the horrific shooting in Sutherland Springs in November 2017.

The Sutherland Springs shooter should not have been able to purchase a firearm, but he passed a background check because the Air Force failed to report the records from a 2012 court-martial. Air Force officials conceded that this failure “was not an isolated incident,” and an inspector general’s report revealed that the service branch failed to report disqualifying information on this one shooter four times.

“Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy,” bill sponsor Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, said when introducing the legislation in the aftermath of the shooting. “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.”

The Fix NICS implementation data provided to Blaze Media also says that available military-related records on the databases have “tripled” since November 2017.


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Author: Nate Madden

Nate Madden is BlazeTV’s congressional correspondent. Follow him @NateOnTheHill or send tips to nmadden@blazemedia.com.