Federal officials are notified when individuals who are legally prohibited from purchasing a firearm (such as convicted felons) 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 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 appropriately investigate or prosecute.
- 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 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.
“Our nation has experienced far too many tragedies as a result of multi-systematic failures of communication,” Rubio said. “The NICS Denial Notification Act would help ensure that federal and state authorities are successfully communicating with one another when it comes to dangerous individuals’ prohibited attempts to acquire firearms. This would be a strong step forward in preventing future tragedies. I urge my colleagues to immediately support this bipartisan legislation so that the President can swiftly sign it into law.”
“We have seen too many tragic instances where an individual who should not have been able to obtain a gun used a firearm to commit horrible acts of violence,” Coons said. “Gun violence continues to plague our communities in Delaware and across the country, and the NICS Denial Notification Act is one commonsense step in the effort to prevent these terrible crimes. Ensuring that federal and state law enforcement work together to stop those who are prohibited from buying a gun from getting one will help make our neighborhoods safer. This is exactly the sort of bipartisan step Congress should be able to support.”
“In 37 states including Maine, state law enforcement is not alerted when prohibited individuals try to buy guns,” Collins said. “By requiring the federal government to notify states promptly when someone fails a background check, this commonsense, bipartisan bill would help stop dangerous people from obtaining guns illegally while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”
“Those caught lying on firearm background checks are more likely to be looking to harm others and have no business obtaining a dangerous weapon,” Carper said. “We must be doing far more to make sure guns are not getting into the wrong hands and being used in the senseless shootings that have become far too common in this country. By codifying new coordination between the federal and state governments, this bipartisan legislation takes a common sense step towards preventing these senseless tragedies. I want to thank Senators Coons and Cornyn for their continued leadership on this front, and I hope the Senate can come together to advance this much-needed measure.”
“When a convicted felon lies about his criminal record while attempting to purchase a gun, he is committing a new felony. This happens regularly in America, and the new crime largely goes unprosecuted,” Toomey said. “The NICS Denial Notification Act makes progress on gun safety while respecting the rights of law-abiding gun owners, and will help make our communities safer by better enforcing existing gun laws and responding to warning signs of criminal behavior.”
“We must take action to ensure Americans prohibited from purchasing firearms cannot skirt the law while still protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners like the vast majority of West Virginians. This legislation will help federal and state law enforcement work together to share information on background check denials to keep guns out of the hands of criminals. I’m proud to work with my bipartisan colleagues on this commonsense legislation that will keep communities safe and urge our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to join us in protecting Americans from preventable gun violence while maintaining our Second Amendment rights,” Manchin said.