A group Democratic and Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday to improve the National Instant Background Check System (NICS).
The move comes less than two weeks after the Sutherland Springs shooting in which a man with a history of domestic violence massacred 26 innocent churchgoers, many of whom were children.
The gunman’s criminal record should have prevented him from purchasing a firearm. However, the United States Air Force failed to enter the conviction into the system, meaning the future killer’s background check came back clean.
To prevent another potentially deadly mistake like this from happening, Sens. John Cornyn (R-TX), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Tim Scott (R-SC) – with the help of Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dean Heller (R-NV) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) – crafted the “Fix NICS Act of 2017.”
The bill would require states and federal agencies to create and implement a plan to ensure they are accurately reporting relevant criminal information to the FBI.
States that properly report this type of information will be rewarded with more federal funding, while federal agencies who fail to do so will be penalized by withholding bonus pay for political appointees.
“For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn in a statement. “Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas.”
“This bill aims to help fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms,” he concluded.