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Will a New FBI Database Help Gun Control Background Check Difficulties?

 In Background Checks, BLOG

Will a New FBI Database Help Gun Control Background Check Difficulties?

Have you heard the news? The FBI is soon to start using a second database for gun background checks. This is a huge step forward for the agency, which has been subject to harsh criticism in the recent past about its process, in light of many tragic episodes of gun violence.


For a bit of background, the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is currently a required step in the process for all guns purchased through licensed firearm dealers, currently accounting for about 60% of sales. Part of the problem that has come to light, time and again, is that NICS is only as powerful as the information entered by government and administrative record keepers. Typos, misfilings, or other errors can have dire consequences. In addition to gun sales being denied to capable individuals, firearm background checks can be approved for the wrong people.


At the end of last year, a bipartisan group of United States Senators proposed legislation called the “Fix NICS Act of 2017.” 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.


Going forward, the latest move by the FBI would only serve to help further. The bureau will give those who conduct background investigations access to a huge database of more than 400 million records as they determine who is acceptable for approval and who is not.


Recall the case of the 2015 Charleston church shooting by Dylann Roof, who was able to purchase his weapon ahead of the killings despite a prior felony drug arrest that should have prevented him from doing so, according to the law. In a tragic twist, NICS revealed the arrest but did not provide enough details to automatically deny Roof’s purchase. It was up to the FBI to find the actual report, and several clerical errors kept that from happening within the three-day waiting period for purchasers.


The new database, called N-DEx, was actually created in 2008, long after the NCIS system. The information contained within is owned by state and local law enforcement agencies that voluntarily contribute to it. Use of this system will require the FBI to properly abide by a series of laws, which could partially explain why it hasn’t been used previously. Use of N-DEx, however, could make a great second-tier check for gun sales, advocates argue. It would have made the needed report in the Dylann Roof case much easier to come by, and therefore could have prevented the sale.


Gun control is a hot topic, and part of the reason is because there’s no easy answer. Thorough background investigations based in accurate, properly filed information is an important first step, however. Use of NICS and N-DEx in tandem is a good first step to reforming this broken system.


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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