While there have been efforts to tighten criminal and mental health records in the federal background check system to ensure a prohibited person can’t get a gun, a Minnesota congressman wants to make sure the record is accurate so the law abiding can get a gun.
Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota’s 6th District, introduced the Firearm Due Process Protection Act to the House on April 18. The measure would ensure that an appeal to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is issued a determination within 60 days.
“Citizens who go through the appropriate, legal process of ensuring their own personal protection should not face unnecessary government blockades,” Emmer said in a statement. “Two months is a reasonable amount of time to run a background check and correct false information.”
According to the bill’s language, an individual may bring action to a U.S. district court and then the court shall hold a hearing within 30 days, the government bears the burden of providing evidence as to why the individual is prohibited from possessing a firearm, and if the government fails to prove a case it must correct the record within five business days and pay the plaintiff’s legal fees.
Since introduction, House Resolution 4980 has gained 22 co-sponsors, and was assigned to the House Judiciary committee.
Emmer said he introduced the bill in response to a recent backlog in NICS appeals. In January, news broke that the NICS staff tasked with managing appeals were temporarily reassigned months before to process initial background checks due to a spike in numbers. After transferring the nearly 70 staff members, the backlog grew to roughly 7,100 appeals.
Also intending to improve NICS records, President Obama issued a series of executive actions in January that included amending next year’s fiscal budget so the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which manages NICS, can hire 230 employees for the section. In that same thread, the plan included Attorney General Loretta Lynch to issue directives so state and local authorities could supply the feds with accurate criminal and mental health records.
Numerous bills regarding NICS record keeping have been introduced since January 2015, but they mostly require local authorities the reporting of more records.
Last month, Sen. Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky, introduced the Protecting Gun Rights and Due Process Act in response to the President’s efforts to boost state and local reporting of records. Paul’s measure would impose stricter guidelines for mental health reporting to NICS.