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Gun Control and NICS Background Checks: What You Need to Know

 In Background Checks, BLOG

Gun Control and NICS Background Checks: What You Need to Know

Gun Control and NICS Background Checks
















Gun control has become a hot-button topic in the recent past as a result of a troubling series of tragic shootings throughout the United States. Opinions as to who should be able to purchase a gun, what type, and how, if at all, vary widely. Still, most citizens agree that looking into the past of the purchaser is a good idea. According to Politifact, 90% of all Americans support background checks for gun sales. NICS, or the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, is currently required for all guns purchased through licensed firearm dealers, currently accounting for about 60% of sales.


The mass shooting at a church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on November 5, 2017, brought to light certain flaws of NICS. The gunman, Devin Patrick Kelley, passed a background check for the purchase of his gun despite having violent incidents on record during his time with the Air Force. The Air Force failed to submit that information to the Pentagon, as is required by law. Not only are background checks critical to the safety of gun owners and non-owners alike, the proper documentation and transmittal of these investigations are equally significant.


In early November, a bipartisan group of United States Senators proposed legislation called “Fix NICS Act of 2017,” a law to reform the background check reporting policies presently in place. This legislation would improve reporting procedures and requirements in an effort to ensure that NICS is as up-to-date and accurate as possible. The bill would penalize reporting failures and incentivize proper input of criminal data. Major points of the legislation include:

  • Requiring federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans
  • Holding federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system
  • Rewarding states who comply with their NICS implementation plans
  • Reauthorizing and improving important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS
  • Creating a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law
  • Providing important technical assistance to federal agencies and states who are working to comply with NICS record-sharing requirements


The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 was a similar piece of legislation, introduced in the wake of the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech over ten years ago. Revisitation of the reporting procedures for NICS, however, has been deemed necessary given recent failures of the system.  

As NICS legislation evolves and governments work to enhance the accuracy of criminal background check information, it is in the best interest of companies and individuals to conduct their own research to ensure security. Your company should conduct background investigations on all new employees to verify that they don’t have a criminal record or history of violent incidents. To read more about background checks and why they might be appropriate for your industry, click here. Alliance Risk Group is well versed in background investigation legislation and procedure and can help you to mitigate risk when it comes to hiring. Contact us today!  

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