U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., has thrown his support to two security bills making their way through the U.S. House.
On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice, R-SC, showcased his proposal “to improve the national instant criminal background check system in order to search the National Data Exchange database when conducting criminal background checks” which, he insisted, would have closed the loophole which allowed the shooter in the 2015 Charleston church shooting to purchase a gun.
Rice weighed in on his “21st Century NICS Act” this week as the bill is before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
“The National Data Exchange (N-DEX) aggregates criminal records from various federal, local, and state agencies to provide critical information to the criminal justice community,” Rice said. “Although it is operated by the FBI, outdated agency policy prevents the FBI’s own background check examiners from accessing this database. If a request from a firearm retailer is referred to an FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) examiner, current protocol sends them on a wild-goose chase for relevant information. Unable to legally access their own database, they have to fax requests to local law enforcement agencies and are prohibited from performing basic internet searches to find contact information. If three days passes without an answer from the FBI, the retailer can use their discretion on whether to complete the firearm sale.
“Not only does this prevent lawful citizens from exercising their Second Amendment Right to purchase a firearm, but as we know from the horrific shooting at the Emanuel AME church it allows the sale of guns to people who absolutely should not have them. Why have this database if it isn’t going to be used effectively? This common-sense and long overdue fix will grant background check examiners access to the N-DEX, allowing lawful citizens to purchase firearms without running into bureaucratic delays and keeping guns out of the wrong hands,” Rice added.
Diaz-Balart and U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., are original cosponsors of the bill.
Earlier this month, Diaz-Balart threw his support behind the “Safe to Tell Act” from U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, D-Ct., which “creates a grant program for states to develop systems, such as telephone hotlines, mobile applications, or websites that allow people to anonymously report potential threats to schools.”
“The Safe to Tell Act will create a safe, uniformed, and simple method for individuals to report probable threats to schools,” said Diaz-Balart. “It will also serve as a preventative measure and will provide means to relay information anonymously and effectively so that officials can take action before any harm is done. Keeping schools safe is a top priority for me and my colleagues, and we believe that the Safe to Tell Act is an important step in the right direction.”
“Too often, in the wake of a school shooting, we look back at the behavior of the killer and see that there were warning signs that went unreported,” said Himes. “People notice things that don’t seem quite right, or that put them on edge, but don’t know how or where to report it. The Safe to Tell Act creates ways for people to share their concerns of potential threats and educates the public and law enforcement on how to report. Earlier warning and better reporting will save lives.”
The bill was sent over to the House Judiciary Committee earlier this month.