Senators Want to “Reform” Background Check System

Katie Pavlich of Townhall recently reported on a number of Republican Senators who want to make some tweaks to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The current Wuhan virus pandemic has shown how Americans buying firearms in record numbers despite legislative and logistical obstacles.

“In response to the pandemic, millions of Americans practicing safe social distancing have lined up outside of firearm retailers in order to purchase firearms.  The resulting record-breaking surge has placed significant pressure on the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS), which helps to ensure that criminals and other prohibited persons cannot gain access to firearms,” Texas Senators Ted Cruz and John Cornyn wrote in a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray last week. Several other Senators also signed the letter.

“As our country continues to respond to the pandemic, we are seeking additional information on the impact the coronavirus has had on your agencies and the firearm transfer process so that we have a clearer picture on where things stand and how we can better assist through the legislative and appropriations process,” the letter stated.

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In March, 3.7 million firearms were sold across the nation, which represents an all-time record. In April, 1.7 million firearms were sold, which marks a 71.3 percent increase since 2019.

The demand has place the system under considerable stress and Pavlich noted that it has “created unlawful waiting periods for purchasers.”

“As our nation continues to navigate its response to the COVID-19, we recognize the firearm industry, like many other industries, is being impacted. NSSF® is aware of delays within the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) System. We want you to know the FBI is on the job and working diligently to address the dramatic response and increase in background checks experienced over the past few days,” the National Shooting Sports commented in a March statement. “With daily volumes roughly double that of last year, the NICS team is unable to begin investigations on all delays within three business days, creating a backlog in the delayed checks.”

Senators have expressed concerns about the issue and have proposed more resources to keep this process running as smoothly as possible.

“Federal law expressly recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to purchase and possess firearms but bars certain individuals like criminals and the dangerously mentally-ill. NICS was designed to provide a quick and accurate determination about whether a person can lawfully purchase a firearm from a federally licensed firearms dealer,” the letter read. “Any unreasonable and unnecessary delay beyond the three business days unlawfully impedes the exercise of a person’s fundamental constitutional right.”

“We appreciate that the current national emergency has brought about unprecedented challenges for the FBI and the ATF, and we appreciate that your agencies are working with significant challenges for staff and resources,” the letter added “We are confident that through your leadership, we can work together to ensure that NICS remains up and running during this crisis and that law-abiding citizens are not deprived of their constitutional right to keep and bear arms, especially during these uncertain times.”


Indeed, such concerns are valid given the bureaucratic nature of NICS. It’s good to see Senators raise awareness about the issue. Nonetheless, we should be having a more substantial debate about NICS’s constitutionality. Let’s face it, NICS is unconstitutional and ineffective in combating crimes.

At the very least, we should be having a national discussion about de-funding this program and devolving background checks to the devolving to the state level.

In the meantime, our elected officials should try to make sure that this program runs accordingly and does not cause any additional problems.

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