Meehan, Quigley Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Alert Law Enforcement When Criminals Attempt to Acquire a Firearm
Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) and Congressman Mike Quigley (D-Ill.) today reintroduced 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.
“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.”
“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 Congressman 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.”
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. In 2013, failed background checks in Pennsylvania led to 620 investigations, 346 arrests and more than 200 convictions.
The legislation has earned the support of eight other lawmakers from both parties and has been endorsed by national gun safety and violence prevention groups.
“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.