Senator Cornyn

Fix NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) Act

For years agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence. Just one record that’s not properly reported can lead to tragedy, as the country saw last week in Sutherland Springs, Texas. 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.

I’ll never forget visiting First Baptist Church a week after the shooting and meeting with members of this tight-knit community. I made a promise that day to do what I could to ensure no other community had to experience something so evil and so horrific.

Four days later, I introduced the Fix NICS Act. This law strengthened the background check system to better prevent criminals from obtaining firearms, as was the case in Sutherland Springs. What started as one step toward addressing the holes in the background check system became a big step toward preventing another tragedy.

  • Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to verify the accuracy of records.
  • Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees.  
  • Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans.
  • Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS.
  • Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law.
  • Provides important technical assistance to federal agencies and states who are working to comply with NICS record-sharing requirements.
A coalition of organizations sent a joint letter to Majority Leader McConnell and Minority Leader Schumer asking for a clean vote on Fix NICS, saying “A diverse community of victim advocates, law enforcement, gun violence prevention groups, and prosecutors agree that increased entry of domestic violence records into federal databases would help the justice system do the work of protecting victims and enhancing public safety.” Click here to read the letter in full
Trump Administration: “The President spoke to Senator Cornyn on Friday about the bipartisan bill he and Senator Murphy introduced to improve Federal Compliance with Criminal Background check Legislation. While discussions are ongoing and revisions are being considered, the President is supportive of efforts to improve the Federal background check system.” –White House Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders, 2/19/2018
NRA: “We applaud Sen. John Cornyn’s efforts to ensure that the records of prohibited individuals are entered into NICS, while providing a relief valve for those who are wrongly included in the system.” -Executive Director Chris Cox, National Rifle Association of America, 11/16/17
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: “The Fix NICS Act is a demonstration of Congressional unity, bringing together not only legislators from both sides of the aisle but also taking meaningful action supported by a diverse cross-section of individuals and organizations.” -National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17
Fraternal Order of Police: “Tragically, recent events have showed us that Federal agencies and State governments have too often failed to upload all relevant information to the NICS, allowing the illegal sale of a firearm.  This bill will address this issue in a comprehensive way.” -Fraternal Order of Police, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17
National Domestic Violence Hotline: “This bill will help save the lives of victims of domestic violence and the communities in which they live and worship, by ensuring that domestic violence records are entered properly and consistently into the background check system.” -CEO Katie Ray Jones, National Domestic Violence Hotline, 11/16/17
Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association: “The Fix NICS bipartisan legislation will be a step in the right direction to fix shortcomings in the current NICS system.” –Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/29/17
National Shooting Sports Foundation: “This legislation will fix NICS so that background checks are accurate and reliable.” -National Shooting Sports Foundation, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/15/17
National Network to End Domestic Violence: “Your bipartisan bill would help to avert future tragedies… This legislation will save lives by keeping firearms out of the hands of people with a history of domestic abuse.” -National Network to End Domestic Violence, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17
National Sheriff’s Association: “This legislation is a bold step to ensure federal laws are adhered to and upheld.” -Jonathan Thompson, National Sheriffs Association, 11/17/2017
Texas Council on Family Violence: “With 15 military bases in Texas alone, your leadership with the Fix NICS Act comes at that perfect time and is simply the right thing to do.” -Texas Council on Family Violence, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/22/17
National Criminal Justice Association: “States recognize that penalties against federal grant programs are too often a blunt instrument and ineffective way to encourage compliance with new statutory requirements. We are pleased that this bill focuses on incentivizing, not penalizing, state action.” -National Criminal Justice Association, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17
National Association of Police Organizations: “NAPO stands ready to support this important legislation with any efforts necessary.” -National Association of Police Organizations, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/17/17
United States Conference of Mayors: “As a bipartisan organization, we are especially glad to see a bipartisan approach to strengthening our background check system and reducing gun violence in our nation.” -United States Conference of Mayors, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/17/17
Major Cities Chiefs Association: “We support efforts to ensure that Federal agencies and States will produce NICS implementation plans and correct current deficiencies that result in persons being cleared who should not be allowed to purchase firearms.” -Major Cities Chiefs Association, Letter to Sen. Cornyn, 11/16/17
FBI Agents Association: “Existing laws need to be enforced vigorously and effectively, and the NICS database plays an important role in preventing prohibited persons from obtaining firearms.  The FBIAA appreciates Senator Cornyn’s leadership on this important and bipartisan initiative.” -FBI Agents Association, 11/20/17)