Understand: Fix NICS Act and changes it’s bringing

Report shows millions of new records have been added to national background check system

SAN ANTONIO – A recent report from the Department of Justice shows more than six million new records have been added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, since the Fix NICS Act was passed last year.

This means more government agencies are adding criminal records or other instances that prevent someone from buying or owning a gun.

Background check measure part of spending bill

Fix NICS Act 2018 was a bipartisan bill pushed by two Texas lawmakers following the Sutherland Springs church shooting. Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Henry Cuellar said they knew something had to be done after the U.S. Air Force failed to submit information about the gunman’s conviction, which would have prevented him from buying a gun.

“The Air Force didn’t do its job. They did not turn in — on several occasions — information that should have been part of the national instant background check. So, therefore, he was able to buy a gun when he should’ve not been able to do this,” said U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas.

The Air Force eventually made changes to its criminal history reporting requirements.

The Fix NICS Act strengthens the background check database. It requires federal agencies and states to submit four-year plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system. It also holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload records and rewards states that come up with a plan.

“After the shooting in Sutherland Springs, I authored the Fix NICS Act to help close the gaps in the criminal background check system. I commend the Department of Justice for working to fully implement this law, and I look forward to seeing the continued progress Fix NICS can make to ensure missing records don’t put more innocent lives at risk,” said U.S. Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in a statement.

A spokesman for the Texas Democratic Party said more needs to be done to address gun violence. He sent KSAT the following statement:

“2019 is on pace to be the most violent year in United States and Texas history. We’ve had three more mass shootings in Texas since the passage of this bill. It’s clear that this bill and Cornyn’s RESPONSE Act do not go far enough to solve the issues of gun violence and white supremacy in our state and in our country. Texans deserve real solutions to solve our gun violence epidemic -- not half measures from Cornyn that are meant purely to score political points,” said Abhi Rahman, communications director for the Texas Democratic Party.

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