March 06, 2018

Duckworth Helps Introduce New Bipartisan Gun Safety Legislation to Strengthen Background Check System


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Bill Nelson (D-FL) in introducing new bipartisan gun safety legislation that will improve the background check system and make our communities safer. The NICS Denial Notification Act would require federal authorities to notify state and local law enforcement within 24 hours when individuals who are prohibited from buying firearms attempt to make a purchase and when individuals lie about their background to try to obtain lethal weapons. The legislation is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

“As mass shootings become more frequent and more deadly, Congress must do more than send our thoughts and prayers; we must take action to address the epidemic of needless and preventable gun violence,” Senator Duckworth said. “This bipartisan legislation will make our communities safer by strengthening the background check system and making sure that state and local law enforcement are alerted when someone who should not own a firearm attempts to purchase one. I urge my colleagues to take immediate action on this common sense bill as well as on legislation to make background checks universal, prevent the sale of bump stocks and ban assault weapons so we can help prevent these horrifying tragedies that are robbing America of our siblings, parents and children.”

Illinois is one of 13 states that run their own background checks for firearm sales. Illinois requires the Illinois Department of State Police, which runs the state’s background checks, to alert local law enforcement when someone who is legally barred from purchasing a firearm (such as convicted felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers) tries to buy a firearm. However, in the District of Columbia and the 37 states that rely on the FBI to do the background check, state authorities and local law enforcement are generally not informed by federal officials when someone who is barred from purchasing a firearm tries to do so, which is problematic since local law enforcement officials are well-positioned to investigate an individual’s motivations, including whether they are likely to commit a crime.

This bipartisan legislation would fix this dangerous oversight and ensure that law enforcement officials in every state are alerted when a background check is denied, in case they want to investigate, prosecute, or monitor these individuals for signs of future criminal activity. The legislation would also improve transparency by requiring the U.S. Department of Justice to publish an annual report with statistics about its prosecution of background check denial cases.

The bill has been endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National District Attorneys Association, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety, and Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization founded by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and Captain Mark Kelly.