STATEMENT: CAP’s Chelsea Parsons Responds to Bipartisan Bill Strengthening Firearm Background Check System

Washington, D.C. — Today, a bipartisan group of senators led by Sens. Chris Murphy (D-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX) introduced a bill to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) by helping to ensure that people who are prohibited from buying and possessing guns under federal law are not able to slip through the cracks. Chelsea Parsons, vice president of Guns and Crime Policy at the Center for American Progress, issued the following statement applauding the introduction of the bill:

This bill is a significant step forward in ensuring that the background check system operates as designed. We know that the background check system is only as good as the records that are in it, and the horrific mass shootings at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, last week and the Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015 highlight the tragic results of failing to ensure that records of prohibited persons are properly identified and made available to NICS.
Certainly, there is much more work that needs to be done to close the dangerous gaps in our nation’s gun laws that continue to endanger our communities—particularly the private sale loophole that allows guns to be sold without a background check and the gaps that allow some domestic abusers and stalkers to have access to guns. But this bill demonstrates that we can put aside politics and work together to begin to address this national public health crisis that takes the lives of 33,000 Americans each year.

A number of provisions in the bill emphasize the importance of ensuring that records of individuals who are prohibited from buying or possessing guns because of a history of domestic violence are properly identified as gun-prohibiting and provided to NICS. The risks posed by domestic abusers with guns is well-established. A CAP analysis of data from the FBI found that between 2003 and 2012, more than half of women murdered by an intimate partner were killed with a gun. CAP further examined the challenges with properly identifying domestic violence records and transmitting them to NICS in a 2014 report.
For more information or to speak with an expert, please contact Kyle Epstein at kepstein@americanprogress.org or 202.481.8137.