In-Depth: Sponsoring Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to give states critical information to help them enforce existing laws against individuals who attempt to purchase firearms, but don't have the legal right to do so:
“When a convicted felon lies about his conviction in an attempt to purchase a gun, he is committing a new felony. This happens regularly in America. Unfortunately, these crimes largely go unprosecuted. We can make progress on gun safety while respecting the Second Amendment rights of American citizens. This bipartisan bill will help to make our communities safer from criminals by better enforcing existing gun laws and responding to warning signs of criminal behavior.”
Original cosponsor Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) adds:
“We have seen too many tragic instances when an individual who should not have been able to obtain a gun used one to commit horrible crimes. The American people have called on Congress to act, and the NICS Denial Notification Act is one commonsense step we should take. By ensuring that federal and state law enforcement can work together to prevent those who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun from getting one, we can make our communities safer. This is exactly the sort of bipartisan step Congress should be able to support.”
Rep. Mike Quigley (D-IL), sponsor of the House version of this bill in the 116th Congress, adds:
"Effective communication between federal, state, and local authorities is a key element in the fight to prevent needless gun violence. When all levels of law enforcement are on the same page, we are better able to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of convicted felons and domestic abusers. The NICS Denial Notification Act is the type of common-sense, bipartisan legislation that we need in order to empower law enforcement and protect our communities.”
Last Congress, Sen. Toomey introduced this bill to require the FBI to notify state law enforcement agencies within 24 hours when a person prohibited from owning a gun, like a convicted felon, fails a background check to buy a gun:
“This NICS Denial Notification Act requires the FBI to notify state law enforcement within 24 hours when a person who is prohibited from getting a gun, such as convicted felon, lies about their background in an attempt to buy one. That is, in itself, a federal felony and it goes almost entirely unprosecuted now. We can make progress on gun safety while respecting the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, including better enforcing existing gun laws and responding to warning signs that we get of criminal behavior. This bipartisan bill is a critical step forward in helping to ensure that our communities can be safe from criminals.”
Last Congress, original cosponsor Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) added:
“We have to find ways to work across the aisle to reduce gun violence, and the NICS Denial Notification Act is one modest, commonsense way to do that. By ensuring that state and federal law enforcement are working together to prevent those who shouldn’t be able to buy a gun from getting one, we can make our communities safer.”
Giffords, the gun violence prevention organization led by former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, supports this bill. In a March 2019 press release, David Chipman, senior policy advisor at Giffords and a retired ATF Special Agent of 25 years, said:
"A person prohibited from owning a firearm bold enough to lie trying to beat a background check is a significant federal crime. It is also actionable intelligence that can help cops to prevent other crimes. Right now, if someone is denied by the FBI, state and local law enforcement are left in the dark. And in the rare cases when they are alerted, it’s often too late. This is unacceptable and passing this commonsense bill is a no-brainer. We applaud Senators Toomey and Coons for having the courage to introduce this bipartisan bill that seeks to keep our communities safe from gun violence.”
This bill has five bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including three Democrats and two Republicans, in the 116th Congress. The House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Mike Quigley (D_IL), has the support of 18 bipartisan House cosponsors, including 10 Democrats and eight Republicans. Neither bill has received a committee vote yet.
In the 115th Congress, this bill had 13 bipartisan Senate cosponsors, including seven Democrats and six Republicans, and didn't receive a committee vote. The House companion bill, sponsored by Rep. Quigley with the support of 27 bipartisan cosponsors, including 14 Republicans and 13 Democrats, also didn't receive a committee vote last Congress.
This bill is endorsed by the Fraternal Order of Police, Major Cities Chiefs Police Association, Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association, National District Attorneys Association, Firearms Owners Against Crime, National Domestic Violence Hotline, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Everytown for Gun Safety and Giffords.
Of Note: Federal officials are notified when individuals who are legally prohibited from purchasing firearms (including convicted felons, fugitives, and domestic abusers) try to buy a gun but fail a National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) background check
. These attempted purchase often violate both federal and state laws. However, the federal government rarely prosecutes any of these individuals.