Giffords Responds to President Trump’s Budget Cuts to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Captain Mark Kelly, responded to President Trump’s budget announcement, which includes a 16% cut to grants for states to upload prohibiting records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the databases that allow gun dealers to quickly ascertain whether a potential purchaser falls into a prohibited category before going through with a gun sale. National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) grants are critical funding sources that have proven instrumental to states’ ability to report prohibiting records to NICS, particularly prohibiting domestic violence records. The FY 2017 omnibus funded these programs at $73 million. President Trump’s proposed budget cut funding for FY 2019 down to $61 million.

Robin Lloyd, Director of Government Affairs at Giffords issued the following statement:

“President Trump claims that he wants to build ‘a safe, strong, and proud America’ but his actions do not live up to his words. Instead of strengthening the nation’s background check system to make sure it effectively keeps guns out of dangerous hands, he slashed funding to this critically important system, which will significantly undermine its effectiveness.

“Less than four months ago, we were horrified when the mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas revealed the significant work needed to strengthen our background check reporting system. Dangerous individuals who are prohibited from possessing firearms are slipping through the cracks due to missing or incomplete records in the NICS databases. As a result, an entire community was devastated. Cutting funds used for the very purpose of submitting these records will continue to put American communities at risk because what happened in Sutherland Springs was not a singular occurrence. Unless we take action to remedy this situation, the question is not if another tragedy of this scale will happen, it’s when.”

About Background Checks

  • The Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for prohibited purchasers, such as convicted felons, to purchase or possess firearms, and in 1993, the Brady Act strengthened this law by requiring background checks on gun purchases. But the Brady Act only requires background checks for sales by licensed firearms dealers. Unlicensed sellers, whether they do business online, at gun shows, or from the trunk of their car, are not required to conduct background checks on gun buyers.

  • The FBI uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from purchasing firearms. Over 90% of background checks are done in less than two minutes. Since the NICS system has been in place, over 225 million background checks have been conducted, most instantaneously. Over two million firearms sales to prohibited purchasers have been denied since passage of the Brady Act in 1993.

  • National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP) and NICS Act Record Improvement Program (NARIP) grants are critical funding sources that have proven instrumental to states’ ability to report prohibiting records to NICS. NCHIP grants are currently available to states to improve reporting of criminal history records and protection orders for gun purchase background checks, while NARIP is the sole federal grant program intended primarily to help states upload records to NICS.

  • The correlation between strong background check laws, chief among them universal background checks, and reduced gun death rates is well-documented. For example, in 2007 Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase handgun law, which required background checks on all handgun sales, and saw its gun homicide rate jump 25%, its share of crime guns recovered in-state grew 25%, and its share of crime guns recovered within two years of their original sale double, a key indicator of crime gun trafficking. Conversely, Connecticut saw its gun homicide rate drop 40% and its gun suicide rate drop 15% after implementing a permit-to-purchase handgun law that required applicants to pass a background check in order to purchase a handgun from any seller.

  • Background checks save lives. In states that require background checks for all handgun sales 47% fewer women are shot to death by their intimate partners, there are 53%fewer firearm suicides, and 53% fewer law enforcement officers are shot to death by handguns.

  • Background checks are overwhelmingly popular. A recent poll taken after the Las Vegas shooting found 94% of Americans support universal background checks for all gun sales, including 93% of gun owners.

Related Resources:

To learn more about these measures, or to arrange time to speak with an expert, contact media@giffords.org.

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