NSSF Official Takes Aim At Background Check Failures In Aurora, IL Shooting

More than a week ago, we watched the tragedy unfold as a terminated employee pulled out a gun and started killing his former co-workers. None of Illinois’ gun control measures stopped him. The “gun free zone” sticker on the door sure as hell didn’t, but neither did the state’s background check system.


The gunman was a convicted felon who never should have passed the two background checks required.

National Shooting Sports Foundation’s Senior Vice President, Larry Keane, took aim at the failures of the background check system.

In the wake of the criminal shooting in Aurora, Ill., state agencies are already identifying the gaps in the system that allowed a prohibited person to illegally obtain a firearm, despite going through multiple background checks. The Illinois State Police (ISP) acknowledge they missed a prohibiting felony record when they issued a Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) to the murderer. When the felony was discovered as the murderer applied for a concealed carry permit, the local law enforcement agency and the state police both failed to follow-up with the letter he was sent instructing him to surrender his firearm.

The question is, how did this convicted felon pass multiple background checks without his prohibiting record being discovered?

The firearms industry has long supported the federal background check system. And since 2013, when serious gaps were identified in states submitting records to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the industry has spearheaded the FixNICS® campaign to close the holes in reporting to prevent this type of situation.

Illinois Aware Of The Issue

Government reports show that Illinois has been aware of its shortcomings in background checks for years. A 2011 audit found that “the effectiveness of the FOID card program is limited in promoting and protecting the safety of the public,” and that there “are significant deficiencies in the reporting of individuals with potentially disqualifying mental health conditions to ISP.”

Since that audit, and in the years leading up to it, Illinois has received millions in federal grant dollars to help improve its background check system. Since 1995, Illinois has received nearly $23 million to help improve its background check system. This includes several grants under the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) from FY 1995-2010, totaling $18.3 million and another $4.4 million from NICS Record Improvement Act (NARIP) grants from FY 2010-2013.


But, as Keane notes, this still happened. He asks, “Where did the money go?”

It’s a fair question.

Of course, being Illinois, it won’t get answered. Instead, we’ll keep hearing all about how we need more gun control. We’ll hear more talk about universal background checks even though this felon passed a background check. Two, actually. We’ll hear more about assault weapon bans, despite this individual using a handgun. We’ll hear plenty of more “solutions” that would have done nothing to prevent this attack.

What we won’t hear are real solutions. We won’t hear anything useful at all.

Gun control advocates don’t have any answers. Worse, they freak out at actual answers.

Tell them that an employee armed with his own lawfully owned handgun could have ended the carnage early and they get outraged at the idea. They can’t fathom a good person with a gun not being a threat and never being one.

That’s just one example.

Look, you can tell me universal background checks are a good thing, but when people like this dipstick are passing the damn checks, I find it very hard to take you seriously. He’s not even the first example of a mass shooter who passed a background check despite a history that should have kept him from it.

The Sutherland Springs shooter was dishonorably discharged from the Air Force. That alone disqualified him from buying a gun, yet he purchased two at least a year apart, passing a background check both times.


Seems to me that demanding more gun control and more background checks is particularly stupid when we have two high-profile examples of dirtbags who passed those background checks and shouldn’t have.

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