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AG William Barr Publishes Report on Effectiveness of Gun Background Check System


Attorney General William Barr on Thursday published the first mandatory semiannual report on the 2018 Fix NICS Act. According to Barr, the report illustrated strong compliance from all levels of government and demonstrated a renewed effort to improve record sharing operations integral to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

“An effective NICS system is critical to ensuring that we keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them,” Barr said Thursday.

According to the Department of Justice, an effective NICS must have timely access to complete and accurate information from law enforcement agencies in all levels of government nationwide. The computerized background check system was created to encourage improved record submissions which allows for the instant determination of whether a prospective gun buyer is eligble to possess a firearm. The NICS system searches numerous databases with individual’s relevant criminal history which is crossed-referenced with both federal and state law to determine the prosepective purchaser’s eligibility.

“I am encouraged by the results of this initial report,” Barr said. “Fix NICS implementation is still in its infancy, yet already we’re seeing great strides being made across government – state, tribal, and federal law enforcement – to strengthen the NICS. Given the preliminary data, it is clear that the Fix NICS Act is well on its way to doing exactly what it was intended to do – make the NICS better.”

According to the report, the inter-governmental system resulted in the addition of more than six million records in the system’s three national databases, a 6.2-percent increase from April 2018 to August 2019.

There was also a steady decrease in the number of guns sold to persons later found to be ineligible to possess a firearm.

The number of Firearm Retrieval Referrals (FRRs) (where a prohibited person is able to purchase a firearm because the background check could not be concluded within three business days due to incomplete records) decreased each month in comparison to the same month during the previous year, for an average monthly decline of 102 FRRs.

The report notes that while Fix NICS standards have only been in place for a few months, early indicators are positive.

“As the plans are executed over the next several years, the Department of Justice expects to see a real and lasting positive impact on NICS records and operations,” it said.

Fix NICS Semiannual Report … by Law&Crime on Scribd

[image via PBS screengrab]

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Jerry Lambe is a journalist at Law&Crime. He is a graduate of Georgetown University and New York Law School and previously worked in financial securities compliance and Civil Rights employment law.