Attaching “Fix NICS” To National Carry Bill, Means Both Dead on Arrival

By Jeff Knox : Opinion

Fix NICS Why Bother
Fix NICS Why Bother
Jeff Knox
Jeff Knox

Buckeye, AZ –-( A bill called “Fix NICS,” which is supposed to improve reporting of disqualifying information from the states and federal agencies to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, was on greased rails in Washington D.C., headed for certain passage in both the House and Senate.

That bill now appears dead, and I can't say I'm sorry to see it die.

The reason Fix NICS is dead, is that some Republican lawmakers decided that if they were going to go along with adding resources and mandates to a multi-billion dollar system dedicated to investigating Americans wishing to exercise an enumerated constitutional right, those Americans should get something out of the deal too.

So they combined the Fix NICS bill with a bill that would force states to recognize the carry rights of people who visit them from other states, the National Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act.

This whole thing has caused a rift within the gun world. Many rights advocates are not enthusiastic about any bill that is supported by Chuck Schumer and Dianne Feinstein.

They also don't like the idea of giving more money and power to a system that already spends exorbitant amounts of money, with very little to show for it, and there are details within the bill which are really problematic. Particularly troubling is the mandate that federal agencies involved in mental health, report information to NICS. This blew up into a major battle last year when the Social Security Administration tried to implement a policy that would have reported people to NICS as a “prohibited person,” anyone who had turned management of their day-to-day finances to family or a fiduciary.

Now many of the same groups that railed about the SSA's plan, are endorsing a bill that would mandate that action, and penalize the agency for failing to implement such a plan.

It's not that the Fix NICS bill is itself a bad bill, so much as it is a bill that throws money and leverage behind existing laws that are deeply flawed. Fix NICS designates over three quarters of a billion dollars toward polishing a very large, smelly piece of poo.

We had this same debate a decade ago in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. In that case the murderer probably should have been reported to NICS due to court-ordered, outpatient psychiatric treatment, but those records had never been transmitted to NICS. At that time Congress took up a bill called the NICS Improvement Act. Purist groups like Gun Owners of America (GOA) fiercely opposed the bill, calling it back door attempt at gun control, while the NRA and some other gun groups endorsed it. In the end, GOA's push-back did some real good, as some of the worst flaws in the bill were corrected before it was finally passed, and some actual improvements to NICS and the underlying law were achieved. The NICS Improvement Act was focused on forcing states to do a better job of reporting people to NICS if they met the criteria of a “prohibited person” – such as felons, fugitives, perpetrators of domestic violence, and especially “mental defectives.” It also mandated federal agencies report “prohibited person” information to NICS.

On the other side of the ledger, the final version of the bill included a process by which persons who had lost their firearm rights due to mental issues, could regain their rights. Before the NICS Improvement Act, the loss of rights for mental health reasons was permanent, with no way for a person to regain rights, even if their problems had only lasted a short time, and been resolved decades prior.

Like its predecessor, the 2017 Fix NICS bill was triggered by a failure of NICS to stop a homicidal maniac from acquiring guns through legal channels and using them to commit a brutal atrocity. In this case, the murderer who killed 26 congregants at a Baptist church in Texas, had been convicted in a court-martial for domestic violence, but the Air Force had failed to report the case to NICS. Investigations subsequently revealed that the failure to report disqualifying information to NICS is fairly common among all of the armed services. But why does that require new federal legislation? The armed forces are federal agencies, and they are already mandated by law to report these cases to NICS.

Does Congress really need to throw another $800 million at NICS to get reliable criminal records from the Army, Navy, and Air Force?

But here we are. Gun owners have been clamoring for Congress to pass a national carry bill for years, and we finally have pro-rights majorities in both the House and Senate, and a pro-rights president in the White House, so what's the problem?

The problem is the Senate, where Republicans hold a razor-thin majority, Democrat leaders are determined to block any pro-rights legislation, and Republican leaders are afraid of their own shadows.

Upon learning that the Fix NICS bill was going to be attached to the National Carry bill in the House, Senate Republican Whip, and sponsor of the Senate versions of both bills, John Cornyn (R-TX), lamented that combining the two bills would make passing Fix NICS very difficult. He didn't seem at all interested in how the move might affect the concealed carry bill.

We at The Firearms Coalition are mostly ambivalent about the Fix NICS bill. We don't support the polishing of poo, but we can tolerate the smell if we can get a decent carry bill passed. Our concern now is just how much combining the bills – and the battling hype between gun activists – will distract from the actions – or inaction – of the Senate. As we've been repeating for years, we need recorded floor votes on clean gun bills so we can hold senators accountable.

We don't expect either bill to make it out of the Senate now, unless someone makes a really bad deal on the Fix NICS bill, and in the unlikely event that we actually do get some sort of a vote related to national carry, the Shinola spattered about is almost certainly going to make it less useful come election time.

Neal Knox - The Gun Rights War
Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War

About Jeff Knox:

Jeff Knox is a second-generation political activist and director of The Firearms Coalition. His father Neal Knox led many of the early gun rights battles for your right to keep and bear arms. Read Neal Knox – The Gun Rights War.

The Firearms Coalition is a loose-knit coalition of individual Second Amendment activists, clubs and civil rights organizations. Founded by Neal Knox in 1984, the organization provides support to grassroots activists in the form of education, analysis of current issues, and with a historical perspective of the gun rights movement. The Firearms Coalition has offices in Buckeye, Arizona and Manassas, VA. Visit:

  • 21 thoughts on “Attaching “Fix NICS” To National Carry Bill, Means Both Dead on Arrival

    1. Yea! This story was BS!
      “FBI Preparing to Add 400 Million New Records to NICS – Brady Registration System”

      By: José Niño
      The FBI is about to add 400 million new records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – otherwise known as the Brady Registration System.
      The rationale behind this move is that it will help streamline NICS’s screening process.
      Gun control apologists claim these additional records would have prevented Dylann Roof from committing the Charleston church massacre in 2015.
      Since the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, shootings, politicians have clamored for tighter background checks.
      The political establishment received their wish when Fix-NICS was signed into law—the most far-reaching gun control legislation passed at the federal level since the Brady Act was enacted in 1993.
      For many radical anti-gunners, however, Fix-NICS was not enough.
      Regardless, the DC Swamp has opened a Pandora’s Box of gun control, and it’s anyone’s guess how the political class will use the NICS expansion to infringe on gun rights.
      The addition of 400 million records to FBI databases is a silver lining for the anti-gun crowd, as it can function as a springboard for future anti-gun projects if gun controllers assume power in the near future.
      If you’re a wise gun owner, there is reason to be worried.
      Regardless of the political implications, expanding background checks is not an effective policy in combatting crime.
      Extensive research from John Lott has shown expanding background checks doesn’t do much to reduce crime. In his first notable work, More Gun Less Crime, Lott found little evidence on background checks having any type of effect in reducing crime. In fact, Lott explains how crime rates were plummeting in 1991, well before NICS came into effect in 1998.
      Alas, the anti-gunners don’t care about facts.
      When they couldn’t get further restrictions at the federal level, the gun controllers trotted out universal background checks (UBCs)—background checks on guns purchased from a dealer and guns acquired from private transfers—at the state level.
      Just like its NICS counterpart at the federal level, Lott could not find evidence that UBCs had any impact on lowering crime. Instead, Lott’s studies demonstrated that UBCs function as an effective tax on gun ownership, disproportionately hitting less affluent minorities in crime-ridden urban areas.
      As if it weren’t bad enough, NICS already produces false positives that mixes and matches law-abiding citizens’ records with actual criminals. In effect, countless law-abiding citizens are barred from exercising their gun rights due to bureaucratic technicalities.
      Most alarming is the rate of initial NICS denials that turn out as false positives. Some estimates from the Crime Prevention Research Center indicate that in 2009 alone, 93 percent of initial NICS denials were false positives.
      Enlarging the scope of background checks will only bring even more problems.
      Astute observers of politics will recognize that when government bureaucracies grow they only become more tyrannical and detached from the public.
      In his essay Planning and Freedom, economist Ludwig von Mises provides an accurate assessment of how bureaucracies operate:
      “Seen from the point of view of the particular group interests of the bureaucrats, every measure that makes the government’s payroll swell is progress.”
      Unlike normal institutions that operate under free-market conditions, when bureaucracies fail, they receive more power and cushier benefits. Consequently, bureaucrats could not care less about serving the public interest.
      If the political class continues to maintain these databases, there is no telling what type of government abuse is in store for gun owners further down the line.
      Establishment GOP gatekeepers will try to soothe skeptics by saying the background checks are limited in nature. But what’s to stop anti-gun Democrats from using these same systems to persecute gun owners once they take power?
      With the bureaucratic keys to the ignition, the left will most assuredly put gun rights in their crosshairs.
      To think otherwise is sheer naiveté. It’s time for gun-friendly policymakers to start thinking about the long-term consequences of their policies once they leave office.
      We simply cannot allow myopic politicians to continue leaving our right to self-defense to the mercy of aspiring gun controllers.

    2. I talked to John Cornyn office the sponsor of the S-2135 NICS Fix it bill they keep telling me it will add nothing more to the bill than mandating Federal Government agencies comply with submitting names to the Database. I said if this is so why didn’t Louie Gohmert Us House Of Representative from Texas vote for HR 4477 NICS fix it bill in the House. Here is why Louis Gohnert said there are approx. 2 million names on the NICS database that don’t belong and are in the database by error. He also said that it ake approx. 3 years to get your name off the list from the time you appeal it being on the list. Not only is this bad enough if you are denied the right to purchase a firearm the Federal Agency who denies you that right does not have to tell you why you are being denied. Think about it approx. 2 million people are being denied the right to own and purchase a firearm violating their US Constitutional Rights of the 2nd amendment. It says” the right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed” If I were on the list by error and didn’t belong I would say my rights were being infringed and then having to spend my money and having to wait approx. 3 years to get my name off a list that doesn’t belong is criminal in itself. And now John Cornyn is telling the law abiding it is going to make the system better…I don’t think so. If the names aren’t correct on the list now how is adding more names going to make it better. Those at John Cornyn office couldn’t answer that question and wanted to brush me off by saying they had other calls they had to go. I also told them the NICS database does not necessarily prevent criminals from getting gun as it might make it more difficult for a criminal to get a gun a criminal or convicted felon can get a gun quicker that a person buying one legally on the black market or otherwise. While I am not against the NICS background check we need to make sure everyone in that database is on there correctly. I am totally against gun permits or licenses and mandatory gun courses because they do nothing to prevent criminals from getting gun and actually prevent law abiding citizens who can pass the Federal NICS check from getting a firearm or gun. The Southerland Texas Church shooter was refused a license in the State Of Texas but still got a gun anyway. Having to pay for a license and a mandatory gun course which is non-refundable if denied is a violation and an infringement of my 2nd amendment rights, Requiring a license and mandatory gun course gives the criminal the advantage because he will get his gun if he has to obtain it illegally. A criminal will not follow the law that is why they call him a criminal. I say no more gun laws they simply do not work and I support what approx. 12 other states have done pass Constitutional Carry. If you can pass the NICS Federal Background Check then you should be able to purchase, own, and carry a weapon anywhere so long as it is not posted saying otherwise. If there had been other law abiding citizens in that Church in Southerland Texas that was carrying a weapon the loss of life and injuries in all likelihood would have been considerably less. We need more law abiding citizens with guns not less. Time to remove obstacles such as more regulations, licenses, mandatory gun courses that only the law abiding citizens will follow and by cleaning up the NICS database by making sure everyone’s mane on there belongs. Also Support Constitutional Carry.

    3. Hey AmmoLand… what’s going on with comments here. There were 14. I added one and the number went to 12. I have tow emails for you saying that new comments were added by Jim Macklin. 14 + 2 + 1 = 17 yet only 12 are showing.

    4. Author: Jim Macklin
      ALL 50 States and DC have a concealed carry law and HR 38 will apply in every state.

      Jim, I believe you are right… I stand corrected. I believe that info that I had on 2 states that did not issue was old.

      Also, I got an email with your comment, but I don’t see it here. AmmoLand must be slow in updating this site, while at the same time they send out emails saying that there are new comments…

    5. I’ve been alive about 3/4 of a century. The first 1/4 was spent growing up at Springfield, IL. I have to visit Illinois if I want to see family and friends. Illinois is “shall issue” and they do have a non-resident CCH license [$300 plus 16 hours of training] BUT the state won’t even accept an APPLICATION unless you are a resident of four states. HR 38 is necessary to force Illinois [Chicago] .
      Before I left Illinois and became a professional pilot I worked with horses on the farm at home and sold guns working for a gruff old man named Tom . Open carry was legal in Illinois back then. As a teenager I open carried a Ruger MK I or a Ruger first model Super Blackhawk 44 Magnum. Our place was about the only farm that was never burgled. Maybe firing several thousand rounds from .22 LR to 375 H&H alerted burglars to the risks and reward.
      I know quite a bit about Illinois politics and politicians.
      If 15-25 million citizens get carry in every state it will be more difficult for the schumers and bloombergs to pass the laws we all don’t want.

    6. If you get a carry permit for 2 or 3 specific states you can carry in most of the rest. The ones that you cant don’t go to and most of all don’t spend your money in

      1. @Ron, what about gun owners that reside in states or counties that don’t issue? A more considerate option is to pass national reciprocity?

        1. Illinois, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia are the three no-issue locations. You would not have reciprocity in these three locations, but would in the remaining 48 states.

          It’s a shame that the bill doesn’t state that any permit issues in any state must be recognized by all other states.

      2. It’s easy to say, don’t go there. But if you live next to one of these states where you are likely to be tossed in jail for carrying, simply because your permit is not recognized 2 miles from your home… or if you live in a good state and work in one with bad laws… you need some protection.

        Your drivers license works in all states. This just makes your CCP work the same way.

      3. ALL 50 States and DC have a concealed carry law and HR 38 will apply in every state. DC was just ordered to become “shall issue” but that does not mean that they will be reciprocal. Illinois does not recognize any livense but the Illinois license. Illinois does have a non-resident license but they won’t accept AN APPLICATION unless you’re from Hawaii or three other states.
        HR 38 is essential to force all 50 states to honor the Second Amendment. HR 38 is following te Fourteenth Amendment Section 5 to enforce the rights of citizens.

    7. ” Particularly troubling is the mandate that federal agencies involved in mental health, report information to NICS. This blew up into a major battle last year when the Social Security Administration tried to implement a policy that would have reported people to NICS as a “prohibited person,” anyone who had turned management of their day-to-day finances to family or a fiduciary.”

    8. NICS does NOT need to be ‘fixed’ – it needs to be scrupulously followed. It didn’t ‘fail – it was victimized by non-compliance, much like the lack of enforcement of all those existing ‘gun control’ laws. As another poster mentioned, conflating NICS and concealed carry reciprocity is done for one of two reasons – to slip in a ‘poison pill’ or to water down a desirable piece of legislation.
      BTW – there is no such thing as ‘gun violence’ – guns are NOT capable of any action of their own volition.

    9. Anything Schumer and Feinstein support must be opposed, no matter what it’s attached to.

      The only reason to register is to eventually confiscate, and “background checks” are GUN REGISTRATION.

    10. Most of the money is to hire clerical staff to purge the list and process the restoration of rights. It would be nice if the money to process restoration of rights to those who are pardoned or found innocent on appeal.

    11. I believe the scheme was to give the Democrats something they wanted and could support in exchange for national reciprocity. On the other hand, if they fail to jump on the bandwagon for the combined bill, they give up any claims they keep making that all they want is more thorough background checks.

      Of course we know that’s not all the Dems want when it comes to gun control. And I think they’ll vote against the combined bill regardless because they’re certain that sooner or later they’ll get what they want while giving up nothing in return.

      That said, if voted on separately, reciprocity would go down in flames while the NICS bill would sail through un-opposed. So at least this way there is a chance.

      1. Exactly… There is nothing in the NICS bill that is poison. It spends some money, it’s probably going to be a pain for some departments, but it’s benign. If adding it gains us national reciprocity, then fine. We worked across the isle and came up with a bipartisan bill.

    12. Interesting article about a troubling situation. The problems with NCIS are a totally separate issue from reciprocity. Conflating the two, reciprocity and a supposed legislative “fix” (NICS) is suspicious. Although this excellent article does delve too much into details about the “fix”, nor does it imply that a “Universal” component is included. However, Universal Background Checks have been on the leftist’s agenda for decades. Isn’t UBC the very first step towards a national registration scheme? Finally, registration has always led to or at least enabled confiscation.

      1. Which version of HR 645, what year? Bill numbers get re-used every two years.
        I did see a version of HR 645 that dealt with Washington, DC and not the other 50 states.
        HR 38 as passed covers just about everything except Post Offices. Let’s pass it into LAW and amendm it next session to perfect it.

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