Gun trade group moves to clear the air on Fix NICS legislation

The firearms industry’s trade association on Thursday released a statement arguing the language of a national concealed carry reciprocity bill does not interfere with the Second Amendment rights.

Larry Keane, senior vice president and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said the Fix NICS legislation folded into H.R.38 just before it was passed this week in the House is not a gun control measure as some contend. Instead, it simply moves to help ensure the National Instant Criminal Background Check System has all necessary disqualifying records of those who should not have firearms in its database.

“No one who sells firearms for their livelihood wants to put a gun into the hands of a criminal or a mentally unstable individual,” Keane said. “While we know it’s not perfect, we want to work to improve the system – not expand the law – but improve the system. That’s what the Fix NICS Act will do.”

Keane pointed to the NSSF’s long-running program of the same name, poised to enter its fifth year, which has upped the number of disqualifying criminal and mental health records to the system by working with state and federal agencies.

“NSSF’s work has resulted in a 170 percent increase in records submission, to 4.5 million in 2016 up from only 1.7 million in 2013. That is a record of accomplishment,” Keane said.

Introduced in the House as a standalone measure, H.R. 4477, the day H.R.38 was marked up by the Judiciary Committee, the two bills were later merged before a Republican-heavy floor vote this week that sent the proposal to the Senate. Among those who refused to vote for the measure was U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican who argued the two bills should have been kept separate.

“Does the NICS background check system have problems? Yes, it results in tens of thousands of unjustified denials of gun purchases every year. But like many bills in Congress, the fix-NICS doesn’t live up to its name – it will likely do the opposite,” Massie said in the lead-up to the floor vote. “It throws millions of dollars at a faulty program and it will result in more law-abiding citizens being deprived of their right to keep and bear arms.”

The National Rifle Association openly sparred with Massie over his concerns, which they characterized as inaccurate, going on to say: “The bill incentivizes states to transmit the records of individuals who, under current law, are already prohibited from possessing a firearm. It does not create new categories of restriction.”

In the end, Keane cautioned that as the debate over NICS improvements and national reciprocity moves through the Senate the NSSF will oppose any amendments offered “that would be truly anti-gun.”

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