Congressman Leonard Lance (NJ-07) today led 18 Republican lawmakers in a letter to U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan calling for H.R. 4477 – the Fix NICS Act, to come up for a vote as a standalone measure.  The Fix NICS Act reauthorizes the National Criminal Instant Background Check System and institutes compliance certification measures and penalties for failing to comply.  The NICS system successfully conducts millions of background checks a year, but it is only as strong as the data that is entered into it.

“Background checks are the first line of defense in law enforcement’s efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, domestic abusers and those deemed dangerously mentally ill.  Congress should immediately take up and pass the bipartisan and bicameral Fix NICS Act to close the system’s loopholes to strengthen our Nation’s background check system and make our country safer from gun violence,” Lance said today.  Lance has been one of a minority of Republican lawmakers to vote to fully fund the NICS system.

The Fix NICS Act was brought to the House Floor in December, but was attached to concealed-carry legislation – a measure Lance opposed.  Lance wants a clean, standalone vote on H.R. 4477 next week and organized the letter with Republican colleagues to make the case to House leadership.  “We write today respectfully to request immediate consideration of H.R. 4477, the ‘Fix NICS Act of 2017,’ when Congress returns for legislative business next week.  This bipartisan and bicameral, common-sense legislation would incentivize states as well as federal departments and agencies to submit information and records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) accurately and promptly,” Lance and the co-signers wrote.

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Lance pointed out in the letter that the Fix NICS Act was proposed after the heinous mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas this past November where 26 people were killed.  The shooter was court-martialed by the U.S. Air Force for domestic violence – but that record was never reported by the Department of Defense into the NICS system.  Had the shooter’s court-martial been reported, he would have been legally barred from buying a firearm.  Lance wrote to Defense Secretary Mattis in November calling for immediate compliance and Secretary Mattis has since said the DOD is now in full compliance with NICS.  In Parkland, Florida, news reports have said that the FBI was made aware of the shooter’s online threats and the ongoing investigation will determine who knew of that information and when.  Under the Fix NICS Act, agencies like the FBI, DOD or local law enforcement will face significant penalties for failure to report accurate information to NICS.  

“H.R. 4477, the Fix NICS Act, would greatly improve the sharing of mental health and criminal record information between state and local agencies and the federal background check database.  It has broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.  Let us pass this legislation next week and take an important step toward making our Country safer from gun violence,” the Lance letter concluded.

Full letter:

February 23, 2018

The Honorable Paul D. Ryan

Speaker of the House of Representatives

H-232, United States Capitol

Washington, D.C. 20515

 

Dear Speaker Ryan:

In the wake of the deadly mass shooting at the Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, calls for Congress to revise the Nation's existing gun laws have been renewed.  To this end, we write today respectfully to request immediate consideration of H.R. 4477, the “Fix NICS Act of 2017,” when Congress returns for legislative business next week.  This bipartisan and bicameral, common-sense legislation would incentivize states as well as federal departments and agencies to submit information and records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) accurately and promptly.

The Fix NICS Act was proposed in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate late last year following the mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were killed and 20 others injured by a former U.S. Air Force member with a history of domestic violence.  The U.S. Air Force had failed to submit the shooter's criminal history to the FBI as required.  

H.R. 4477, the Fix NICS Act, would greatly improve the sharing of mental health and criminal record information between state and local agencies and the federal background check database.  It has broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate.  Let us pass this legislation next week and take an important step toward making our Country safer from gun violence.

Thank you for considering our request.