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September 4, 2013

President Obama, Don’t Curb Second Amendment, FixNICS

Upset that the sweeping gun-control agenda he pushed earlier this year with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg did not pass Congress, President Barack Obama seems ready to take on the Second Amendment by himself.

According to a report in the Washington Times, President Obama recently held a closed door meeting with several big city mayors – a veritable who’s who of Mike Bloomberg’s puppet anti-gun group – to tell them he would take unilateral action to change America’s gun laws.

But when the announcement, came, it was somewhat underwhelming. Obama has decided to completely shut down imports of so-called “U.S. origin” military collectible firearms, but that’s basically the same policy that’s been in place for years, with exceptions few and far between.  And a second regulation will require that applications for NFA firearms made through corporations or trusts will require the same background check of responsible persons that individual NFA applications require.  Let’s look past the details to consider the scope of this announcement.  Both of these proposals are around the margins.  It’s hard to escape the feeling that someone, somewhere, is “checking the box” for the sake of politics.

But the background check proposal reinforces the fact that any background check is only as good as its database.  NSSF continues to urge lawmakers and regulators alike to remember that there is a bipartisan solution advanced by the gun industry — strengthening our current background check system.

Background checks through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, are a requirement of all retail firearm sales. These checks are meant to ensure people legally barred from owning firearms – criminals and mentally-unstable individuals – aren’t allowed to purchase them. The problem is that NICS is only as good as the information put into the system. And right now, the information put into the NICS database is spotty at best.

Some states, such as Pennsylvania, California, New Jersey and Texas, do their part by submitting all the necessary records to the database. Others, however, are leaving gaping holes in the system. Rhode Island, North Dakota, Alaska, Hawaii and Massachusetts have sent in a total of four names to the system – combined. Compare that to the 650,000 Pennsylvania submitted, and you can see the real problem this poses to public safety.  Meanwhile, the president plays politics.

NSSF has committed itself to FixNICS.  And we’re not alone – even Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns actually agrees with us. NSSF will continue to push elected officials at the state and national level to FixNICS. In the meantime, please help us by contacting your Member of Congress.

Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.

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