Background check measure part of spending bill

Sen. Cornyn is author of Fix NICS Act

By Garrett Brnger - Reporter

A measure to strengthen the background check system for gun sales appears to be riding its way into law on the back of an omnibus spending bill.

The Fix NICS Act, a bill originally sponsored by Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, is included in the $1.3 trillion spending bill making its way through Congress. The measure would provide incentives for state and federal authorities to keep the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, updated with data.

Cornyn sponsored the original bill in November after the Sutherland Springs church shooting. The shooter had been able to purchase multiple firearms despite being barred from doing so by federal law. It was later revealed that information that would have precluded him from buying the guns was not entered into NICS.

The Fix NICS Act will save lives, Cornyn said. But in the wake of other mass shootings such as the one in Parkland, Florida, gun control advocates want to see much more done.

Speaking with reporters on a conference call Thursday, Cornyn said he doesn't want to do anything to infringe on law-abiding gun owners but said there could be more to do.

"So there may be other common ground consensus bills that we can look at, some dealing with mental health. There actually is a school safety bill that will be part of the omnibus appropriation bill as well," he said.

Cornyn also mentioned regulating bump stocks, the devices used by the Las Vegas shooter to increase his rate of fire.

Congress has so far failed to ban bump stocks following the October shooting that killed 59 people and injured hundreds, though the Trump administration said earlier this month it had taken steps to ban them by regulation.

The spending bill has passed the House and will need to pass the Senate by midnight Friday to avoid a government shutdown.

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