Tightening criminal records checks: It’s a start

U.S. Sen. John Cornyn deserves an “A” for effort in trying to crack down on a tragic flaw in the nation’s effort to keep guns out of the hands of criminals.

He has announced a bipartisan bill that seeks to strength the federal background check of individuals seeking to buy firearms. The legislation comes in the wake of the Sutherland Springs, Texas, massacre that killed 26 people at First Baptist Church. The gunman, an Air Force veteran, slipped through the USAF’s criminal records system when the Air Force failed to report to the FBI that the gunman had been convicted of domestic assault; he was given a bad conduct discharge from the Air Force.

According to the Texas Tribune: The Texas Republican’s bill, known as the Fix NICS Act, tries to ensure federal and state authorities accurately report relevant information, including criminal history, to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

“For years, agencies and states haven’t complied with the law, failing to upload these critical records without consequence,” Cornyn said in a statement.

The Tribune reports: The NICS database is maintained by the FBI and used to determine if a prospective gun buyer has a criminal record or is ineligible to purchase a firearm. The database became the focus of national attention earlier this month after a man fired an assault rifle at a small church during Sunday morning services, killing 26 people and injuring scores others.

Read the Tribune story here.

I fear this legislation might be too little, though, to have a significant impact on the huge numbers of guns already available for anyone to buy — legally or otherwise.

The bill under consideration has the support of leading senators from both parties, which suggests at least a smidgen of bipartisan outrage over the flood of firearms.

It’s a start.

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