Press Release

Reps. Cuellar and Culberson Introduce Gun Background Check Bill

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WASHINGTON, November 17, 2017 | Rafael Benavides ((956) 725-0639) | comments
Yesterday, Thursday, November 17, Reps. Henry Cuellar (D-TX), John Culberson (R-TX), Elizabeth Esty (D-CT), Ryan Costello (R-PA), and Pete Aguilar (D-CA) introduced H.R. 4434, a companion bill to the FIX NICS Act of 2017 that was introduced in the Senate earlier this week by Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Chris Murphy (D-CT). The investigation into the recent shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, revealed enormous gaps in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This bipartisan legislation ensures federal and state authorities comply with existing law and accurately report relevant criminal history records to NICS. This bill provides consequences for federal agencies who fail to properly report relevant records and ensures that states improve their overall reporting. Federal and state records are thoroughly lacking, and this bill helps fill in those gaps.

“Following the horrific shooting that occurred in my district, in Sutherland Springs, Texas, there is a call to action to prevent this kind of tragedy from happening again. But many call for new laws often without considering whether or not current laws are being enforced,” Congressman Cuellar said. “Today, we introduced bipartisan legislation that will fill in the gaps in NICS that led to tragedies like the one in Sutherland Springs. The FIX NICS Act is an example of both parties in both chambers of Congress working together to set aside partisan politics and offer real solutions to the American people. I thank Senators John Cornyn, Chris Murphy, Orrin Hatch, Richard Blumenthal, Tim Scott, Dianne Feinstein, Dean Heller, Jeanne Shaheen, and Rep. John Culberson for their leadership on this bill. I am also grateful to Reps. Elizabeth Esty, Ryan Costello, and Pete Aguilar for their support.

“For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Sen. Cornyn said. “Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 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.”

“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, and I’m glad the House is following suit,” said Sen. Murphy. “It’s no secret that I believe much more needs to be done. But this bill will make sure that thousands of dangerous people are prevented from buying guns. It represents the strongest update to the background checks system in a decade, and provides the foundation for more compromise in the future.”

“Had existing law been enforced, the horrific tragedy in Sutherland Springs, Texas would have never occurred. The pure negligence of criminal history reporting into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) must end,” said Rep. Culberson. “I’m honored to join my fellow Texas legislators, Senator John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar on the Fix NICS Act and am greatly encouraged at the bipartisan effort to hold federal and state authorities accountable to existing law. I urge my fellow colleagues in Congress to support this critical, lifesaving piece of legislation.”

“This bill is an important first step in the effort to take bipartisan action to keep Americans safe from gun violence,” Rep. Esty said. “There are many more steps I believe we can and should take to protect people from weapons of war, but closing the gaps in NICS – our background check system – is a good start. Our proposal demonstrates that we can find ways to work together to protect our families while respecting the Second Amendment.

“We now know that the killers in several recent mass shootings, including the devastating attack in Sutherland Springs, were not supposed to be able to legally purchase guns. Gaps in NICS reporting enabled these murderers to gain access to the weapons they used to inflict immeasurable pain and suffering on communities throughout the country. As Republicans and Democrats, we can agree that strengthening the background check system will give us more tools to keep guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and other dangerous criminals. This bill is just plain common sense. I applaud my colleagues in both parties in the House and Senate for working together on this important, bipartisan step forward. We owe it to the moms, dads, and families throughout the country who have laid loved ones to rest to act now.”

“Databases and systems we use for background checks are only as strong as the records are complete,” Rep. Costello stated. “The systems must be accurate and comprehensive so that we can stop these tragedies. This bill is yet another example of my bipartisan commitment to take responsible and constitutional steps to prevent gun violence.”

“The gun violence epidemic in our country has devastated too many lives in too many communities, including my own,” said Rep. Aguilar. “By strengthening the background check system, this bill is a commonsense step in the right direction toward preventing future tragedies.”

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.

For more information on H.R. 4434, please click the following link:
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