Senate

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 Cornyn (R-Texas), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Tim Scott (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.

{mosads}“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 Hatch (R-Utah), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.) and Jeanne Shaheen (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 Flake (R-Ariz.) and Martin Heinrich (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.

Tags Chris Murphy Dean Heller Dianne Feinstein Gun control Jeanne Shaheen Jeff Flake John Cornyn Martin Heinrich National Instant Criminal Background Check System Orrin Hatch Tim Scott

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