It doesn’t take a genius to recognize what most gun rights activists have known all along… our National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is severely flawed.
A recent study conducted by both The Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) at UC Davis and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, found that over the last 10 years California’s strict gun control laws have had “no impact” on both the homicide and suicide rates within the Golden State.
Perhaps even more surprising for gun control activists, researchers found that much like our immigration policy, our Criminal Background Check System simply doesn’t work.
Researchers explained in a prepared press release, “It compared observed annual firearm homicide and suicide rates in California over 10 years following enactment of comprehensive background check and misdemeanor violence prohibition policies in 1991 with expected rates based on data from 32 control states that did not have these policies and did not implement other major firearm policies during the same time.”
Researches acknowledged they saw a 10.9% decrease within that 10-year span in the use of firearm suicides in California. However saw that exact same decrease in suicides across the country within states that didn’t have California’s restrictive gun laws, suggesting that something else besides background checks and waiting periods had played a role in the drop.
The study concluded that the biggest factor affecting California’s gun laws is the lack of “up-to-date data” submitted to NICS.
Garen Wintemute, professor of emergency medicine and director of the Violence Prevention Research Program at UC Davis and senior author on the study, said in a statement.
“Incomplete reporting of prohibiting data to background check systems in the 1990s, prior to implementation of the policies in California, is an important limiting factor.”
Adding, “In 1990, only 25% of criminal records were accessible in the primary federal database used for background checks, and centralized records of mental health prohibitions were almost nonexistent. As a result, a large number of people likely passed their background checks even in cases where, according to law, they should have been prohibited from purchasing a firearm. This remains a serious problem today; mass shootings have resulted from prohibited persons passing background checks and purchasing firearms.”
Both the NRA and Second Amendment advocates have long claimed publicly that the issue of gun violence and mass shootings could be remedied in part if Congress actually fixed the systemic problems within NICS.
That’s why both the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) have long advocated for “FIX NICS” which would require ALL INVESTIGATIVE AND POLICE AGENCIES to submit 100% of their CRIMINAL CONVICTIONS every 6-months to NICS.
Wintemute, however, acknowledges that since 2000 the quality and accuracy of criminal background checks denying firearm purchases to at-risk individuals, has improved by as much as 40% for homicides and just over 16% for suicides, citing rigorous permit-to-purchase laws.
Within recent weeks both legislators in Washington along with various state leaders from both sides of the political divide are seriously considering finally improving the nation’s criminal background checks, which would require a complete overhaul of NICS.
The bill currently making its way through Congress called “Fix NICS Act of 2017, (if enacted) would close a major loophole within the current law.
The revised bill would amend the “Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act” passed after the assassination attempt on President Reagan. The bill would require all federal agencies to report criminal convictions to the Attorney General, so those convictions are put into the background check system.