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March 17, 2011

NSSF Statement on Legislation to “Improve” NICS

The National Shooting Sports Foundation, the trade association for the firearms industry, has issued the following statement concerning legislation to “improve” the National Instant Criminal Background Check System:

When it comes to supporting commonsense measures that will help keep firearms out of the hands of those prohibited by law from possessing them, America’s firearms industry takes a backseat to no one. For example, members of the firearms industry have long-supported an instant background check for retail firearm purchases – this support predates the introduction of the Brady bill.  We have also supported making improvements to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) in order to increase the system’s speed and accuracy.  This support, which includes calls for legislation that would improve state reporting of mental-health records into NICS, has been both vigorous and consistent.

As our record demonstrates, as long as Second Amendment and privacy rights are fully-respected, America’s firearms industry remains supportive of efforts to enhance safeguards that ensure firearms do not fall into those currently prohibited from possessing firearms.

Unfortunately, despite our industry’s longstanding efforts to ensure safe and lawful firearm ownership, anti-gun politicians are using the tragedy in Tucson to further their anti-gun agendas.  Earlier this week, Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) announced her upcoming introduction of the “Fix Gun Checks Act,” legislation designed to “strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.”  While we await the language of her bill, we can only assume it will follow the Senate version (S. 436), introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) earlier this month.

Despite the stated purpose of the bill, Mr. Schumer’s proposal does not seek to enhance the NICS system by merely incorporating names of those individuals who are already prohibited.  Sen. Schumer’s bill takes multiple steps to add to the definition of what constitutes a prohibited person, thereby stripping American citizens of their individual constitutional right protected by the Second Amendment. In fact, the bill would not only qualify an untold number of individuals as being newly prohibited, but would actually establish a system whereby institutions and individuals could effectively and authoritatively strip law-abiding citizens of there constitutional rights – all without due process.

Here is what Sen. Schumer’s bill calls for:

Section 103(a) – Lowers the standard of individuals who are “adjudicated as a mental defective” and thereby increases the number of citizens who are prohibited from possessing firearms.  By adding 18 U.S.C. 921(a)(36), the bill would include individuals who are simply compelled by a “lawful authority” in response to “subnormal intelligence, mental illness or incompetency” to receive counseling.  This means that any government entity, by compelling an individual to receive counseling, even without any professional diagnosis, can prohibit law-abiding citizens from possessing a firearm.

Section 103(b) – Modifies the Higher Education Act of 1965 (20 U.S.C. 1011 et seq.) by creating requirements that higher education institutions establish teams of “educators, administrators, counselors, or other qualified members of the educational community” to assess the mental health needs and safety risks posed by students.  It also mandates the creation of multiple systems to report students to state or local health authorities for mandatory evaluation.  This section would create teams of college professors who would have the power to determine the mental health needs and risks posed by students, perhaps those that do not agree with the professors politically or who exercise their First Amendment rights to speak out in support of their Second Amendment rights, and allow them a system to report these students to the government for evaluation.

Section 104 – Lowers the threshold for individuals to be considered “drug abusers and drug addicts who are prohibited from possessing firearms.”  The bill adds 18 U.S.C. 921(c)(1) and would include individuals who were arrested in the last five years, but not convicted, for the possession of drugs or drug paraphernalia and those who have failed a drug test or admitted to drug use in the past five years.  In addition, if an individual is ordered by a court into a diversion program designed for addicts or abusers of controlled substances, whether or not they are convicted of any crime, they are added to the prohibited list.  This section allows a wrongful arrest of a law-abiding citizen who is exonerated of their charges to still lose their right to keep and bear arms.

Section 201 – Extends the Brady Law background check procedures to all sales and transfers of firearms.  Private transfers between law-abiding individuals would no longer exist.



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