Quigley Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Alert Law Enforcement When Criminals Acquire a Gun
WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representatives Mike Quigley (IL-05) and Patrick Meehan (PA-07) re-introduced the bipartisan NICS Denial Notification Act, which will help law enforcement better enforce current gun laws by establishing an alert system to notify state and local law enforcement when criminals break the law attempting to acquire a gun. The bill also calls for a federal study of background check denials, which will help develop a risk-assessment tool for law enforcement to use in identifying denied gun purchasers who pose a higher risk for future violence.
“By strengthening partnerships between federal, state, and local law enforcement, we can create an additional layer of protection to ensure weapons stay out of the hands of the wrong people – from felons and domestic abusers to the mentally ill,” said Rep. Quigley. “Using every tool at our disposal to ensure law enforcement is notified when a criminal attempts to buy a gun is a common-sense step to mitigate the gun violence epidemic that plagues our nation and wreaks havoc right in our own backyards. Decreasing gun violence and increasing public safety transcends party lines, and this practical piece of legislation will benefit every district in our shared efforts to enforce current gun laws and save lives.”
“Our background check system is among our most important tools in the fight against gun crime,” said Congressman Meehan. “When a felon or otherwise-prohibited person is trying to obtain a gun, that’s something law enforcement should be aware of – it may be an indication of plans for a future crime. This is a common-sense step we can take to help our law enforcement personnel prevent gun crimes before they happen.”
The Brady Act prohibits felons, domestic abusers, and the mentally ill from buying a gun by mandating background checks for all gun sales at licensed firearm dealers through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Since the NICS background check system became operational in 1998, 58 percent of denials were due to the applicant having been convicted of a felony, and an additional 14 percent were due to the applicant having a domestic-violence misdemeanor conviction or a domestic-violence restraining order. Each of these attempted purchases is a violation of federal and state laws, but these so-called “lie and try” crimes are rarely prosecuted. While these crimes are often considered low priority to federal prosecutors, the acquisition of firearms by prohibited individuals poses a significant risk to public safety in many communities. By informing state and local police and prosecutors when such individuals have attempted to buy guns, which the NICS Denial Notification Act will do, they can decide whether to pursue criminal charges, initiate investigations, or keep an eye on these individuals for signs of future criminal activity.
Automatically notifying state and local law enforcement when a prohibited individual attempts to acquire a gun would help law enforcement intercept a dangerous person before they acquire a weapon through another means, such as a gun show, over the internet, or via classified ads. Current efforts in some states to investigate denied firearm background checks demonstrate how such arrests can save lives. In 2014, Virginia arrested more than 500 criminals who attempted to purchase weapons illegally. In 2013, failed background checks in Pennsylvania led to 620 investigations, 346 arrests and more than 200 convictions.
Co-sponsors include Reps. Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Peter King (NY-2), Nita Lowey (NY-17), James Renacci (OH-16), Kathleen Rice (NY-4), Daniel Donovan (NY-11), Ryan Costello (PA-06), and Bill Pascrell (NJ-09). The legislation is endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Giffords, and Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
“Our nation’s firearms laws are designed to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals and every year, thousands of firearms sales are blocked because the attempted purchaser failed a background check run by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS),” said Chuck Canterbury, National President of Fraternal Order of Police. “Tragically, recent events have showed us that Federal agencies and State governments have too often failed to upload all relevant information to the NICS, allowing the illegal sale of a firearm. This legislation will give the critical information State and local agencies need to work and develop cases against these individuals, many of whom may be dangerous felons or domestic abusers.”
"We applaud Representatives Quigley and Meehan for working in a bipartisan way on legislation that will protect public safety and save lives. By requiring federal officials to notify state law enforcement when a criminal who is prohibited from having a gun tries to buy one, this bill would enable law enforcement on the ground to stop people with dangerous histories before they obtain guns illegally,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety.
As a member of the House Appropriations Committee, Rep. Quigley has called on Congress to stand up to the gun lobby in America. Earlier this month, he introduced legislation requiring the Attorney General to conduct a study and provide a report to Congress on possible links between mass shooters and a history of domestic violence. Rep. Quigley has also co-authored a bipartisan background check bill that expands the existing background check system to cover all commercial firearm sales and introduced the Good Neighbor Gun Act, which would require the Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish a voluntary code of conduct for licensed gun dealers and create a national “Good Neighbor” certification for gun dealers who abide by a certain set of requirements.