Swalwell, Quigley, Fitzpatrick, Diaz-Balart Reintroduce Bipartisan Gun Safety Legislation
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mike Quigley (IL-05), Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01), and Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) reintroduced gun safety legislation that will help states enforce existing laws against individuals who attempt to purchase firearms but have no legal right to do so. The NICS Denial Notification Act would require federal authorities to alert state and local law enforcement within 24 hours when an ineligible individual lies on a background check and tries to purchase a firearm, which can be a warning sign of future criminal behavior.
“When someone lies in trying to buy a gun, they’re breaking the law - and it makes no sense that law enforcement wouldn’t be informed of that immediately,” Swalwell said. “Our bill will make sure we can adequately enforce the laws we already have on the books, and will help curb the plague of gun violence that’s taking too many American lives.”
“Over the past year, we’ve seen gun violence spike in cities across the country. Now more than ever, ensuring all levels of law enforcement – federal, state and local – are able to communicate effectively, we can prevent firearms from getting into the hands of convicted felons and domestic abusers,” said Quigley. “The NICS Denial Notification Act is common sense, bipartisan legislation that will play a key role in the fight to prevent needless gun violence.”
“As a career FBI Agent, I understand the critical importance for federal, state, and local authorities to be in constant communication and frequently share vital information that can prevent crimes and save lives,” said Fitzpatrick. “Our bipartisan NICS Denial Notification Act will assist our law enforcement in keeping our communities safe by ensuring our local authorities know when criminals attempt to access firearms and fail a background check.”
“Every year, thousands of convicted felons, fugitives, and others who are barred from owning a weapon attempt to purchase one by lying on their background checks, yet local law enforcement is rarely alerted of these acts,” said Diaz-Balart. “This bipartisan, commonsense bill increases protections for our communities and provides our law enforcement officers with the tools needed to prevent weapons from falling into the wrong hands. I am proud to join Reps. Quigley, Fitzpatrick, and Swalwell in introducing this critical piece of legislation and I urge House Leadership to swiftly bring this bill to the Floor for a vote."
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. Unfortunately, the federal government rarely prosecutes any of these individuals.
In the 13 states that run their own background checks, state authorities are already aware when prohibited persons fail a background check, and local law enforcement can then investigate these cases. However, in the 37 states and the District of Columbia that rely on the FBI to run some or all of their background checks, local authorities generally are not aware when a person in their area fails a background check. Individuals who are willing to "lie and try" to buy a gun may be dangerous and more likely to obtain guns through other means. As a result, these states and D.C. lack crucial law enforcement intelligence that could be used to keep their communities safe.
The NICS Denial Notification Act would:
- Require federal authorities to alert state law enforcement of background checks 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.
- Require 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.
The NICS Denial Notification Act was reintroduced in the Senate by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas). It is also co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Carper (D-Del.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), and Joe Manchin (D-W.V.).
The legislation is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, the Major Cities Chiefs Association, the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Domestic Violence Hotline, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords.
“The Brady Background Check system is the foundation of our nation’s gun violence prevention laws, helping to keep firearms out of the hands of those who should not have them. This bill will create an additional layer of protection, ensuring that states and the federal government understand when prohibited purchasers attempt to acquire firearms, helping both to make informed decisions on how to continue preventing individuals who should not have a gun from acquiring one. Brady is grateful to Rep. Quigley and Sen. Coons for leading on this important issue and for introducing this bill,” said Brady President Kris Brown.
“Amid the recent surge in gun sales, twice as many prohibited purchasers lied about their records in illegal attempts to buy guns. When people with dangerous histories try to get armed, law enforcement should know that A.S.A.P., so they can stop warning signs from becoming tragedies. We applaud Senators Coons and Toomey reaching across the aisle and introducing legislation to provide law enforcement with the information they need to stay ahead of criminals,” said John Feinblatt, President of Everytown for Gun Safety.
“The purchase of a firearm is often a sign that a domestic abuser’s violence is escalating,” says Ruth M. Glenn, President and CEO of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “For the safety of the survivor, it is critical that local law enforcement be aware when an adjudicated abuser tries to purchase a firearm. Armed abusers pose a danger to survivors and their communities.”
"People who unlawfully try to purchase a firearm commit a Federal crime, but, in many instances, these individuals may not be known to State and local law enforcement agencies," said Patrick Yoes, National President of the Fraternal Order of Police. "This legislation would require the U.S. Department of Justice to notify State law enforcement, potentially enabling State and local agencies to develop cases against these individuals, many of whom may be dangerous felons or domestic abusers."
“The NICS system has many flaws, one being the lack of notification to local law enforcement when a denial occurs. In many cases, the denial is due to an individual’s criminal record, which may be familiar to local law enforcement. That local law enforcement would benefit from knowing the individual is attempting to purchase a firearm. This bill would ensure that gap is closed and law enforcement can coordinate to stop prohibited persons from accessing weapons. We appreciate Senator Coons and Senator Toomey for leading on this important law enforcement issue,” said Larry Osme, President of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association.
“NDAA is excited to again support the NICS Denial Notification Act. This bipartisan legislation strengthens the relationship between Federal authorities and their State and local policing and prosecutor partners by mandating data sharing when an individual attempts to illegally purchase a firearm. This change in law provides our members and policing agencies with the tools necessary to keep the communities we serve safe,” said Nelson Bunn, Executive Director, National District Attorneys Association (NDAA).