Washington, D.C. —Center for American Progress Senior Vice President, Arkadi Gerney issued the following statement regarding the release of omnibus appropriations bill language that includes funding for grants to states to supply records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, increased to $73 million for fiscal year 2015. The increased funding level—the highest funding level ever for the gun background check grant program and an increase of more than 30 percent over the prior year—confirms the result of a May 29 floor vote in the House of Representatives. In that vote, the House approved the increased funding level by a 260-145 vote that included 76 Republican votes of support. In addition, the new omnibus appropriations language requires that the Federal Bureau of Investigation report on the submission of prohibiting records to the background check system. This will provide an unprecedented look at the degree to which states are meeting their obligation of submitting this information to NICS to ensure that the system operates as envisioned and prevents dangerous people from being able to buy guns.
The NICS background check database is a crucial component to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Millions of records that should be included in the database are missing. The increase in funding will go a long way toward ensuring that states are providing all records of felons, abusers, and the seriously mentally ill, who are prohibited from gun ownership and should be in the gun background check system. Additionally, the new FBI reporting requirement around state submissions will ensure transparency and accountability for states that continue to fail to provide complete records to the background check system. Together, both provisions are small steps toward the big goal of a comprehensive national system that requires background checks on all gun sales.
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