May 20, 2015 – Former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and retired Navy combat veteran and NASA astronaut Capt. Mark Kelly, the Co-Founders of Americans for Responsible Solutions, issued the below statement today on funding for the federal background checks system and misguided gun riders contained in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill.
The FY2016 bill maintains funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Checks System (NICS) at the FY2015 enacted level and includes $1.25 billion for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), $49 million above the FY2015 enacted level. However, the bill contains several legislative “riders” that will hinder the enforcement of existing laws. Congresswoman Giffords and Capt. Kelly’s statement:
“This bill provides an investment in our background check system and law enforcement that is badly needed. Our national background check system is only as good as the records of the dangerous people that it contains – but thousands of records are missing, making it far too easy for dangerous people to get their hands on guns. We must continue to provide states with the resources they need to ensure that convicted felons, domestic abusers, and the dangerously mentally ill don’t have easy access to guns. And we must continue to give federal law enforcement the tools they need to crack down on the illegal gun trade.
“While we are pleased to see this bipartisan agreement on continued, expanded funding for our background check system, unfortunately this legislation contains several harmful riders that make it harder to enforce existing federal gun laws. These special interest riders are irresponsible. We urge the Committee to strip them from this bill.
“We were also shocked and disappointed to see the Committee reject an amendment to close the loophole that allows individuals on the FBI’s Terror Watch List to pass a background check when buying a gun. The threat of active shooter terrorism remains real, and we fear that the recent attack in Texas is a harbinger of greater future threats.
“It’s good news that this bill invests in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System grant program. But there is still a lot more to do to fix our broken background check system – including closing the loopholes that allows dangerous people to buy guns without a background check or any questions asked. Americans for Responsible Solutions will continue to fight for closing these loopholes and making our communities safer from gun violence.”