NRA supported background check fix drawing flak

Cornyn background check bill

Sen. John Cornyn’s Mental Health and Safe Communities Act is proving contentious to those on both sides of the gun violence issue. (Photo: Doug Mills/The New York Times)

A measure that aims to shore up the nation’s firearms background check system is getting negative feedback from both gun control and gun rights groups.

The bill, introduced by U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-TX, last week is designed to enhance the National Instant Criminal Background Check System by encouraging states to step up their mental health reporting to the feds while simultaneously directing resources to mental illness programs.

The proposal, termed the “Mental Health and Safe Communities Act,” has the strong endorsement of the National Rifle Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

However, anti-gun groups including the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety claim the measure backed by top Senate Republicans will actually make NICS less effective.

“This bill would have the net effect of invalidating many records currently in the system, and it would allow people who have been involuntarily committed to buy a gun immediately after leaving a psychiatric hospital – a particularly dangerous time, according to mental health experts,” said Everytown President John Feinblatt in a statement.

While the organizations admit Cornyn’s S. 2002 provides incentives to states in an effort to increase disqualifying criminal and mental health records to NICS, and replaces offensive legacy terms such as “mental defective” dating back to the 1968 Gun Control Act, they argue the measure overall is a bad bill.

“S. 2002 would not have prevented mass shooters like Dylann Roof, Mohammad Youssuf Abdulazeez and John Russell Houser from walking into a gun store, passing a background check, and obtaining a firearm,” said CSGV Director of Communications Ladd Everitt.

In a twist from the other side of the argument on gun politics, the National Association for Gun Rights issued an alert last week opposing the Cornyn bill claiming it would do the polar opposite by increasing gun control.

“Details are still emerging, but this proposal would coerce states to hand over your private medical records to the Federal Government,” reads a fundraiser broadcasted across NAGR’s media accounts. “John Cornyn is ready to surrender more Americans to the anti-gun media and Barack Obama instead of getting rid of the broken and unconstitutional Brady Registration system with recent evidence of its catastrophic failures.”

The Cornyn measure has been referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.