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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Quigley Introduces NICS Denial Notification Act

Mar 11, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05), along with Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), and Diaz-Balart (FL-25), reintroduced the bipartisan NICS Denial Notification Act to help state law enforcement better enforce existing gun laws and respond to warning signs of criminal behavior. This legislation would establish an alert system that notifies state law enforcement when individuals legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm attempt to do so. 

“Effective communication between federal, state, and local authorities is a key element in the fight to prevent needless gun violence,” said Rep. Quigley. “When all levels of law enforcement are on the same page, we are better able to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of convicted felons and domestic abusers. The NICS Denial Notification Act is the type of common-sense, bipartisan legislation that we need in order to empower law enforcement and protect our communities.”

“As a former FBI Agent, I know how important it is for federal, state, and local authorities to be in constant communication and sharing information which can stop crimes,” said Rep. Fitzpatrick. “The NICS Denial Notification Act will help keep our communities safe by ensuring local authorities know when criminals attempt to access firearms and fail a background check.”

“Nobody wants criminals to have guns, so state law enforcement must be informed when someone tries to buy a firearm but fails the background check – it’s just common sense,” said Rep. Swalwell. “As a former prosecutor, I know that reacting fast to signs of criminal intent, including letting states know if the wrong people are trying to buy guns, can save American lives. That’s why it’s so important that Congress pass the bipartisan NICS Denial Notification Act that we’re introducing today.”

“Every year, thousands of convicted felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers fail background checks, and as current law reads, local law enforcement is not always alerted,” said Rep. Diaz-Balart. “The NICS Denial Notification Act creates a protocol for local, state, and federal law enforcement to increase collaboration and communication when it comes to background checks. We must ensure they are given the resources to work together and better protect our communities. I am proud to support this bipartisan bill that supports our men and women in blue, while also keeping firearms out of dangerous hands.”

The NICS Denial Notification Act helps state law enforcement better enforce existing gun laws and respond to warning signs of criminal behavior by establishing an alert system to notify state law enforcement when individuals legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm attempt to do so. Federal officials are notified when individuals who are legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm (such as convicted felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers) try to buy a gun but fail a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check. These attempted purchases often violate federal and state laws. 

Under federal law, it is a felony punishable by up to ten years of imprisonment for a person who is prohibited from purchasing firearms to lie about their prohibited status on a background check form in an attempt to buy a gun. Yet, the federal government rarely prosecutes any of these individuals who may be dangerous and willing to obtain guns through other means.

In 37 states and the District of Columbia, which rely on the FBI to run some or all of their background checks, state authorities are generally not aware when prohibited persons fail background checks run by the FBI. As a result, these states and D.C. lack critical law enforcement intelligence that they could use to try to keep their communities safe. Specifically, the bill:

  • Requires federal authorities to alert state law enforcement of background check denials, so that state authorities can decide whether to investigate, prosecute, and/or keep an eye on these denied individuals for signs of future criminal activity.
  • Requires DOJ to publish an annual report with statistics about its prosecution of background check denial cases, so Congress and voters can hold federal officials accountable.

Rep. Quigley first introduced this bill in the 115th Congress. In this 116th Congress, he has supported H.R. 8 and H.R. 12, two major background check bills, as well as a number of other gun violence prevention bills. In January, Rep. Quigley reintroduced the Buyback Our Safety Act to support local gun buyback initiatives.

 

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