The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Cornyn’s cause


Texas Senator John Cornyn introduced a bill that would strengthen the required background check for purchasing a firearm.

Less than two weeks after the shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, Senator John Cornyn introduced a bipartisan effort to strengthen the federal background check database.
Senate Bill 2135, or the Fix NICS Act, which was originally introduced with seven co-sponsors on Nov. 15, 2017, is a bill which would hold federal and state agencies accountable for uploading criminal records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database, maintained by the FBI. The bill was passed in the House last year and is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee. It now has 77 co-sponsors and is supported by organizations such as the National Rifle Association and Everytown for Gun Safety.
The NICS database is used to check if a potential gun buyer has a criminal background in order to determine if they are eligible to buy a firearm. It is designed to prevent people with histories of felonies, mental illness, drug abuse and domestic abuse from owning a gun. Currently, there is no enforcement policy associated with the system, which results in legal purchases of firearms by individuals who may be unfit.
The Fix NICS bill was written in response to the shooting in Sutherland Springs, where a former Air Force serviceman opened fire in a church, killing 26 people. The shooter had faced a court-martial on four charges, but the Air Force failed to report his history to the FBI. If the information had been in the NICS system, the man would not have been allowed to purchase a firearm.
“Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas,” Cornyn said when he introduced the bill. “This bill aims to help fix what’s become a nationwide, systemic problem so we can better prevent criminals and domestic abusers from obtaining firearms.”
In addition to requiring states to create NICS implementation plans, the bill creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative and gives assistance to federal and state agencies that comply with the requirements. In a letter to Cornyn, Ruth Glenn, executive director of the National Coalition against Domestic Violence, said the bill addresses a priority held by both gun violence prevention advocates and gun rights advocates.
“Domestic violence misdemeanants and respondents to permanent domestic violence protective orders are among the people prohibited from possessing firearms, but states’ and federal agencies’ submission of these records to NICS have been woefully inadequate,” Glenn wrote.
While the bill is supported by legislators and organizations on both sides of the aisle, many have said it cannot be the only policy change regarding guns. John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety, reflected this sentiment.
“If all Congress does is pass the Fix NICS Act, then lawmakers will have failed to meet this moment and do their job,” Feinblatt said. “This bill is a small step forward. Congress needs to do much more.”
As the Fix NICS Act sits in the Senate Judiciary Committee, Cornyn continues to fight and gain support for the bill.
“I’m not going to go home and tell my constituents in Texas I didn’t do my very best and didn’t do something meaningful that would save lives in the future, and Fix NICS is the best way to do that and do that now,” Cornyn said.

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