Quigley Introduces Legislation to Track Dangerous Gun Proceed Sales During COVID-19 Pandemic
Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) introduced legislation to direct the FBI to report the number of “default proceeds” during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The reporting of this information will enable Congress and the public to better understand how many prohibited individuals may be gaining access to firearms during the current pandemic.
Federally licensed gun sellers are required to contact the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to conduct a background check to determine if an individual is legally allowed to purchase a gun. These background checks often require additional time for review and, in these situations, NICS has 3 days to complete the check. If the background check is not finished within that time, the gun purchase can be completed without a background check. This scenario is known as a “default proceed.” The COVID-19 pandemic has increased public demand to purchase a firearm, straining NICS resources, which has led to an increase in default proceeds, which potentially enables guns to more easily fall into the wrong hands.
“It is critical that we acknowledge that firearm sales have risen dramatically since the outbreak of COVID-19 and we need to do everything we can to prevent convicted felons, domestic abusers, and other dangerous individuals from easily accessing guns,” said Quigley. “Reporting from the FBI and ATF on these statistics will give us a better understanding of how to assess the flood of default proceeds during these already dark times.”
This bill directs the FBI in consultation with ATF to provide the following data points to Congress during the COVID-19 pandemic:
- Total number of background checks initiated,
- The total number of background checks completed,
- The total number of background checks resulting in approval,
- The total number of background checks that were delayed, and
- The number of background checks resulting in denial before the 3 business day review period is completed and delayed denials.
According to the FBI’s new data released on April 1st, 2020, the number of background checks conducted was 41% higher in March 2020 compared to March 2019. Furthermore, the FBI found that of the top ten days with the highest number of background checks since the inception of the NICS system in 1999, five of these record-breaking days occurred last month.
Original cosponsors include Representatives David Cicilline (RI-01), Joe Neguse (CO-02), Don Beyer (VA-08), Jahana Hayes (CT-05), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), and Eliot Engel (NY-16).
This legislation has been endorsed by Everytown for Gun Safety, Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, and Violence Policy Center.
Quigley has been a longtime proponent of gun safety. He has reintroduced the NICS Denial Notification Act for several Congresses, which establishes an alert system that notifies state law enforcement when individuals legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm attempt to do so. He also has supported H.R. 8 and H.R. 1112, two major background check bills, as well as a number of other gun violence prevention bills. Additionally, earlier in the 116th Congress, Quigley introduced the Trafficking Reduction and Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act, which requires background check records to be maintained for a minimum of 180 days to help improve gun-tracking data.