COLUMBIA, S.C. — South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott is among the sponsors of bipartisan legislation to ensure federal agencies and state governments accurately report relevant criminal history to the FBI’s database of prohibited gun buyers.
Scott, a Republican, is one of more than half a dozen sponsors of the “Fix NICS Act,” which would penalize federal agencies that fail to properly report required records. It also rewards states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences and has the backing of the Senate’s No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas.
The measure comes after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen at a Texas church on Nov. 5. The Air Force has acknowledged Devin P. Kelley should have had his name and domestic violence conviction submitted to the National Criminal Information Center database.
The bill would require states and federal agencies to develop plans to ensure they are uploading all relevant records and information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. The measure would penalize federal agencies that fail to fully report relevant records and push states to improve their reporting.
“All too often we come to the conclusion that horrible situations could have been prevented with thorough and complete reporting,” Scott said Thursday in a news release on the legislation. “As we tragically found out after the heartbreaking shooting at Mother Emanuel, we know the devastation that can manifest if gaps in reporting allow a madman with a criminal history to obtain a weapon.”
Scott referenced another church massacre in which authorities have said background check errors allowed the purchase of the weapon used to go through. The FBI has said a background check examiner never saw Dylann Roof’s prior drug arrest because state-level records were incorrect.
Roof was allowed to buy the handgun, which he later used to kill nine Bible study participants at an AME church in downtown Charleston in June 2015. He is currently on federal death row.
“While we cannot legislate against pure evil, we most certainly should do all we can to ensure these individuals do not have access to any type of firearm,” Scott said, calling the bill a “commonsense solution.”