Senators forge deal to improve gun background database

Senators forge deal to improve gun background database

Life Swift
Published on September 29, 2023
Senators forge deal to improve gun background database

A bipartisan group of senators has struck a deal to bolster a federal database used to check the backgrounds of gun buyers in the aftermath of several recent mass shootings.

The new legislative push is led by Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) and Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), two powerful figures in their respective parties when it comes to gun policy. Though their bill has not been formally released, it targets the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which both senators have said is deeply flawed.

Their plan is twofold, according to two sources familiar with it: One is to incentivize states to send more information about criminal histories to the system, known as NICS. States usually aren’t required to do so, unless their own laws mandate it or they have to do so to receive federal funding.

It would also make sure that federal agencies follow through on their own requirement that they send information to the database. The new plan would beef up the federal mandate and include punishments for agencies that don’t comply, according to one of the sources.

Mass shootings in recent years have exposed flaws with the national database. Most recently, the U.S. Air Force disclosed after a massacre at a rural Texas church last week that officials there did not submit information to NICS about the gunman’s history of domestic assault that should have stopped him from owning a gun.

Cornyn said last week that he was working with Murphy and Democratic Sens. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico on legislation to improve NICS. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is also supporting the bill, according to an aide.