Bipartisan coalition in Congress presses for $75 million NICS investment

A bipartisan coalition of congressional lawmakers pushed for a $75 million investment into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System in a letter last week.

Reps. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., and Pete King, R-N.Y., spearheaded the formal request to the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Science, Justice and Related Agencies as the panel prepares its 2018 appropriations bill.

In the letter, dated April 4 and signed by nearly 170 lawmakers, Thompson and King request the committee carve out $75 million for the implementation of the NICS Improvements Amendments Act of 2007, which would provide financial incentives for states to upgrade their electronic databases, clean up existing records and create a “relief from disabilities” procedure for persons who once lost gun rights after being declared mentally defective, but “no longer poses a danger to society.”

“The safety of Americans relies on keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them — and we do that by making sure their names are in our background check system,” Thompson said in a statement earlier this month. “Studies have shown there are huge backlogs of names still waiting to be entered into NICS. These people are criminals and domestic abusers whom the law has found should not have a gun – but they may still be able to get one if they can pass a background check. We must make sure states have the resources needed to keep our background check system current.”

Less than 6 percent of the $1.125 billion pledged to implement the act between 2009 and 2013 has been appropriated, according the letter.

“We fully understand the current constraints on the federal budget and appropriations process,” the letter reads. “Keeping citizens safe, however, must be Congress’s top priority.”