Thompson Announces Record Bipartisan Support for NICS Funding
Washington – Today Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-05) announced that he and a record 182 members of Congress from both parties are requesting $75 million in federal funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check Systems (NICS).
“A strong background checks system helps keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals. That’s why I am proud to announce a record number of supporters for my appropriations request for the NICS background checks system,” said Thompson. “This is strong progress, but our work to prevent gun violence continues. Congress should also immediately take up my bipartisan background checks bill, H.R.4240, which will expand the system and close loopholes to help keep our schools, our communities, and our nation safe.”
A copy of the letter is included below and a PDF is attached.
March 18, 2018
The Honorable John Culberson The Honorable José E. Serrano
Chairman Ranking Member
House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice,
Science and Related Agencies Science and Related Agencies
H-310, The Capitol 1016 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515
Dear Chairman Culberson and Ranking Member Serrano:
As the Committee begins writing the Fiscal Year (FY) 2019 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 $75 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 citizens 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 $75 million.
Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the Gun Violence Prevention Task Force as well as the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.