Senators Unveil Bipartisan Gun Control Legislation

Republican and Democratic senators have released a bipartisan gun control bill that would increase background check requirements for gun sales and encourage states to rigorously input convictions into the federal background check system.

Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, drafted and presented a bill that would improve the National Instant Criminal Background Check system. Potential buyers must be run through that system before sellers can give them a gun, according to NBC.

Multiple other senators are sponsoring the bill, including Sen. Tim Scott, R-South Carolina, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nevada and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-New Hampshire, according to The Hill

The bill is titled ‘Fix NICS Act’ and has not yet received public opposition from gun rights lobbyists like the National Rifle Association.

The bill creates grants and other incentives for state agencies and federal agencies to produce and process documents that determine whether someone is eligible to purchase a gun or not so they can be entered into the system. The bill would withhold particular bonuses for states that don’t comply, and would provide funding for states to include domestic violence crimes to NICS, according to NBC.

Cornyn said in a statement that the bill is intended to “fix what’s become a nationwide, systematic problem” in order to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals and offenders, according to The Hill. It would also include a specific provision to ensure that states can more easily share information with NICS related to domestic assault cases.

The bill comes in the wake of a mass shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas, when Devin Kelley burst through the doors of the First Baptist Church and killed 11 people inside.

In the days after the shooting, the Air Force revealed that former airman Devin Kelley had been court-martialed, according to a warrant search on domestic violence charges. He received a “bad conduct” discharge in 2014. However, the Air Force failed to report the court martial to the FBI, which would have entered his crime in the database and prevented him from purchasing a gun under current law.

Gen. Mark Miley, the U.S. Army chief of staff, told ABC that as many as 20 percent of the army’s cases are never reported to the FBI, an issue he said is found throughout the U.S. military. Miley said the United States needs to “tighten up” its reporting policies, acknowledging that there have been a significant number of omissions in the past that would allow violent individuals to purchase guns.

Miley said about 150 people annually are dishonorably discharged after being court martialed, and said all incidents need to be reported to the FBI in the future, according to ABC.