May 29, 2014
Press Release

WASHINGTON, DC – A bipartisan amendment authored by U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, Pete King (R-NY), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Joe Heck (R-NV), Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and Mike Quigley (D-IL) to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) passed the U.S. House of Representatives today by a vote of 260-145-1. The amendment provides an additional $19.5 million to help states improve their submissions into the criminal background checks system, bringing NICS funding for Fiscal Year 2015 to $78 million. Thompson offered the amendment on the Floor last night.

“Our national criminal background check system is only as good as the data you put in it, and right now all the information isn’t getting into the system,” said the six Representatives in a joint statement. “When this happens, we can’t enforce the law, and criminals, domestic abusers, or dangerously mentally ill individuals who otherwise wouldn't pass a background check can slip through the cracks and buy guns. Our bipartisan amendment addresses this dangerous shortfall of information by providing states with the resources they need to get their records into the criminal background checks system.”

Every day the background checks system stops more than 170 felons, some 50 domestic abusers, and nearly 20 fugitives from buying a gun. However, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the database used to determine whether or not a prospective buyer is eligible to buy a firearm, is missing valuable information. Because of this, dangerous people who otherwise wouldn't pass a background check can slip through the cracks and buy guns.

  • A recent USA Today report found that in just five states, records for at least 2.5 million fugitives weren’t entered into the NICS system.
  • According to a recent report by Everytown, 12 states have still submitted fewer than 100 mental health records to the NICS system.
  • According to the Department of Justice, six states have fewer than 30 total records each in the NICS system in all prohibited categories combined.

Last year, Congress increased funding to almost $59 million. However, $20 million in requests from states went unfunded.

This bipartisan amendment, which is fully paid for, provides states with increased funding to ensure the background checks system has complete and timely information to keep firearms out of the hands of individuals who should not possess guns.

The amendment was included as part of H.R. 4660, the FY 2015 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill. 

The amendment is supported by Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Sandy Hook Promise, Third Way, the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, the National Education Association, Americans for Responsible Solutions, the National Parent Teacher Association, the Union for Reform Judaism, the Washington Office on Latin America, States United to Prevent Gun Violence, Moms Rising, and the American Federation of Teachers.


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