The U.S. House of Representatives has passed the FIX NICS Act of 2017 where the bill now sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee awaiting a hearing. This law would provide incentive for ALL STATES to report up to the federal fingerprint database. However, the House added a bill that has put a fly in the ointment which will make this difficult to pass in the Senate.
What does the FIX NICS Act do?
The “FIX NICS Act” aims to increase state compliance with and improve the accuracy of existing background check systems for firearm purchases. It would ensure that 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 also penalizes federal agencies that fail to properly report relevant records and incentivizes states to improve their overall reporting. It also directs more federal funding to the accurate reporting of domestic violence records.
If all 50 states report up to the NICS database, child care employees will no longer have to seek a separate background check from states they have lived in during the last five years as the federal database will cover that check.
Provisions under the bill would include:
- Requiring federal agencies and states to produce plans to ensure that all information that would bar a person from buying a firearm under current law is uploaded to the NICS background check system; these plans would include measures to verify the accuracy of records;
- Holding federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system — failure would result in prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees;
- Increasing accountability and rewarding states that comply with their NICS implementation plans with federal grant preferences and incentives;
- Reauthorizing and improving law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS;
- Creating a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure 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.
Why is this being held up in the Senate?
The House of Representatives added a piece of legislation that would allow states to give reciprocity to other states concealed weapons permits, meaning if a resident from another state has a concealed weapons permit issued by that state, Georgia must honor the other state’s concealed weapons permit.
Why is this a problem?
Because not all states have the same legal requirements necessary to obtain a concealed weapons permit. While Georgia requires a superior court judge to review and approve the concealed weapons permits, other states may have much more lenient requirements. Some view this as a big problem since there are no uniform standards across states to issue concealed weapons permits. Because Senate Democrats can influence whether legislation will pass (it takes 60 votes to approve a bill in the Senate), they will not pass the legislation unless the concealed weapons reciprocity language is removed from the bill. Even if they do, it remains to be seen whether the House would pass the FIX NICS Act without the concealed weapons language in the bill.
Stay tuned as GCCA continues to monitor the progress of this bill. To review the FIX NICS Act of 2017 in its entirety, click here