Improving Background Checks for Gun Purchases

June 13, 2007

On June 13th, the House unanimously passed its first gun control bill in many years. H.R. 2640, the National Instant Background Check System (NICS) Improvement Act is bipartisan legislation designed to address the situation that allowed the Virginia Tech shooter to purchase the guns used in his deadly crime spree. Under current law, individuals like Virgina Tech shooter Seung Hui Cho who have been committed to a mental institution or legally declared mentally defective and a danger to others are prohibited from purchasing a firearm.

Unfortunately, states do not always transmit the required information to the NICS database in a timely fashion. H.R. 2640 provides incentives for states to do a better job making this disqualifying information available to the NICS. It also reduces federal law enforcement funds to states who fail to do so. Under the bill, those deemed ineligible to purchase firearms can appeal this decision to the relevant state authority.

This bill now moves to the Senate, where I hope that it can be moved as expeditiously as possible.


Contact: Alison M. Mills (617) 621-6208