WASHINGTON, D.C. –-(Ammoland.com)- A new stimulus bill is making its way through the halls of Congress, and with a $1200 check, gun owners are getting another unwelcome surprise.
The Republican-led Senate HEALS act contains two particular spending section that is concerning to gun rights activists.
The text of the bill reads:
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) – $1.963 billion. The bill provides $1.963 billion to the FBI, for personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, testing capacity, the Criminal Justice
Information Services (CJIS), and construction. Funds are also provided to bolster the capacity of
CJIS’ National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) – $36.4 million. The bill
provides $36.4 million to ATF, for personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies, testing
capacity, and remote workforce infrastructure. Funds are also provided to support ATF’s
responsibilities with respect to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS)
and the transfer of firearms.
Hidden in the language in the bill is the ability to use government COVID-19 funding to bolster the capacity of the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Licensed firearms dealers must perform background checks on all customers they are transferring a gun to during a sale. The bill allocates $1.963 billion for the FBI to use for personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies in addition to bolstering NICS capabilities. The bill is vague as to how much of the money the FBI can use for NICS.
The bill also doesn’t make it clear what it means by bolstering the capacity of NICS. Gun rights activists are concerned about what the FBI will do to NICS with the increased COVID-19 funding. The best-case scenario would be that the FBI fixes their system to make it truly instants for all gun buyers and to prevent outages like the NICS breakdown from last week. The worst-case scenario is more evasive background checks and more false positives in NICS.
The HEALS Act also allocates $36.4 million to the ATF for much of the same things with the addition of remote work infrastructure. It also gives the ATF money to spend on NICS. This allocation is confusing to firearms activists because NICS is not a function of the ATF. The FBI and not the ATF run NICS. It doesn’t make sense for Congress to give the ATF money for the background check system.
The bill also lets the ATF use the money for the investigation of the transfer of firearms. Gun rights activists could see the ATF abusing the money to further infringe on the rights of gun owners. There is a history of mistrust between gun owners and the ATF because of the agency changing of interpretation of statues to fit their pre-determined result.
It isn’t clear why so-called “pro-gun” Republicans would include increased funding for gun control measures that the government has in place. Some theorize that Republicans added bolstering NICS to the bill to appease Democrats. Others believe that the Republicans in power think that the two law enforcement agencies will not abuse these funds. Whatever the reason, it looks like there is a good chance of Congress, including these provisions in the final bill that will pass.
About John Crump
John is a NRA instructor and a constitutional activist. He is the former CEO of Veritas Firearms, LLC, and is the co-host of The Patriot News Podcast, which can be found at www.blogtalkradio.com/patriotnews. John has written extensively on the patriot movement, including 3%'ers, Oath Keepers, and Militias. In addition to the Patriot movement, John has written about firearms, interviewed people of all walks of life, and on the Constitution. John lives in Northern Virginia with his wife and sons and is currently working on a book on leftist deplatforming methods and can be followed on Twitter at @crumpyss, on Facebook at realjohncrump, or at www.crumpy.com.