Senators introduce bipartisan gun background check bill

A bipartisan group of senators is trying to strengthen reporting to the national background check system in the wake of a mass shooting in Texas earlier this month.

Sens. John CornynJohn CornynDemocratic unity starts to crack in coronavirus liability reform fight Bottom line Five questions about the next COVID-19 relief package MORE (R-Texas), Chris MurphyChristopher (Chris) Scott MurphySenators weigh traveling amid coronavirus ahead of Memorial Day Congress eyes changes to small business pandemic aid Top Democrat to introduce bill to limit Trump's ability to fire IGs MORE (D-Conn.), Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottJuan Williams: Justice Thomas seizes his moment in the Trump era The Hill's Campaign Report: Biden seeks to tamp down controversy over remarks about black support African American figures slam Biden on 'you ain't black' comments MORE (R-S.C.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) introduced legislation on Thursday that would require states and agencies to produce plans for sending records to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) that would show if an individual is prohibited from buying a gun and verifying that the information is accurate. 

The measure would also try to incentivize agencies and states to provide information by blocking bonus pay for political appointees in agencies that fail to upload records to the background check system and rewarding states that follow their implementation plans.

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“For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence. ... 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," Cornyn said in a statement.

Murphy — who noted on Wednesday that lawmakers were close to an agreement — added that "this deal will strengthen the background check system and save lives. Our bill marks an important milestone that shows real compromise can be made on the issue of guns."

Sens. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchBottom line Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah), Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Major space launch today; Trump feuds with Twitter Justice Department closing stock investigations into Loeffler, Inhofe, Feinstein Let's support and ensure the safety of workers risking so much for us MORE (D-Calif.), Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerOn The Trail: Democrats plan to hammer Trump on Social Security, Medicare Lobbying World Democrats spend big to put Senate in play MORE (R-Nev.) and Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenThis week: Surveillance fight sets early test for House's proxy voting Open Skies withdrawal throws nuclear treaty into question GOP faces internal conflicts on fifth coronavirus bill MORE (D-N.H.) are also sponsoring the legislation.

The bill comes just 11 days after a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 

Devin Kelley, the identified gunman, received a “bad conduct” discharge from the Air Force in 2014 after being court-martialed on a domestic violence charge.

Kelley’s court-martial conviction should have been reported to the FBI’s database. Had it been, it may have made it more difficult for him to purchase a firearm legally.

But Air Force officials on Monday said the Holloman Air Force Base Office of Special Investigation did not enter Kelley’s information into the system. 

The new legislation would also create a "domestic abuse and violence prevention initiative" aimed at making sure states have the ability and incentive to share information with the NICS that would show a felon or someone convicted of domestic violence cannot purchase a gun.

Cornyn added that "just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas."  

Senators have introduced multiple pieces of gun legislation after the shooting in Texas, as well as an October mass shooting at a country music festival in Las Vegas, where nearly 60 people were killed and more than 500 were injured.

Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane Flake'Never Trump' Republicans: Fringe, or force to be reckoned with? The Memo: Can the Never Trumpers succeed? Former GOP Sen. Jeff Flake says he will not vote for Trump MORE (R-Ariz.) and Martin HeinrichMartin Trevor HeinrichThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: Mastercard CEO Ajay Banga says supporting small business single most important thing we should do now; Teva's Brendan O'Grady says U.S. should stockpile strategic reserve in drugs like Strategic Oil Reserve Senate votes to reauthorize intel programs with added legal protections Bottom line MORE (D-N.M.) introduced legislation earlier this month to close the "domestic violence loophole" by requiring that the military report domestic violence convictions to the national background check system.