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Heinrich Cosponsors Bipartisan Legislation To Improve Background Check System For Firearms Purchases

Fix NICS Act would improve and enforce records reporting by federal agencies and states

WASHINGTON, D.C. -  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) cosponsored the bipartisan Fix NICS Act led by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) to ensure federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The bill penalizes federal agencies who fail to properly report relevant records and incentivizes states to improve their overall reporting. The bill also directs more federal funding to the accurate reporting of domestic violence records.

“Our country is weary from violence and grief and the American people deserve meaningful action from Congress. With each new tragic shooting, we see clear examples of how we are failing to keep guns out of the hands of those who would turn them against our communities,” said Heinrich. “We must address the loopholes that helped lead to the mass shooting in Texas and improve our system of reporting criminal and domestic violence records. This is something Republicans and Democrats can agree on and action we must take to prevent future tragedies.”

The Fix NICS Act has received endorsements from the National Rifle Association of America, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Fraternal Order of Police, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the National Sheriffs Association.

Background on the Fix NICS Act:

  • Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to verify the accuracy of records. 
  • Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees. 
  • Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans. 
  • Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS. 
  • Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law. 
  • Provides important technical assistance to federal agencies and states who are working to comply with NICS record-sharing requirements.

A copy of the bill is available here.