Senators introduced bipartisan legislation on Thursday aiming to strengthen the federal gun background check system.
Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) introduced the Fox NICS Act to compel federal and state officials to report criminal history records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Devin Patrick Kelly, the gunman who opened fire at a church in Sutherland Texas earlier this month, was able to purchase a gun despite having a conviction for domestic violence because it was never reported to NICS.
"For years agencies and states haven't complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence," Cornyn said in a statement.
Murphy, one of the most vocal advocated for gun control on Capitol Hill, said the bill "marks an important milestone that shows real compromise can be made on the issue of guns."
The Fix NICS Act is the most important piece of bipartisan guns legislation since Manchin-Toomey. 4 Dems, 4 Republicans. Reforms aren't window dressing. Big deal.— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) November 16, 2017
Under the bill, federal agencies and state would be required to create implementation plans focused on uploading all information that would prohibit a person from buying a gun under current law to the background check system.
Agencies that fail to upload relevant background records would face consequences under the bill. For example, political appointees at agencies that fail to comply would be prohibited from receiving any bonus pay.
The bill would reward states that comply with their NICS reporting plans by giving them preference on federal grants and other incentives.
The legislation also calls for the creation of a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure states have resources to be able to share information that would prevent domestic abusers from purchasing guns.
Senators Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Dean Heller (R-NV), and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) co-sponsored the bill.