Opinion: Fix NICS Act must pass to strengthen background check system for gun buyers

(Sinclair Broadcast Group)

EDITOR'S NOTE: Boris Epshteyn formerly served as a Senior Advisor to the Trump Campaign and served in the White House as Special Assistant to The President and Assistant Communications Director for Surrogate Operations.

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - Sadly, the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, is far from our nation’s first senseless tragedy.

Our hearts still break over the shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.

Twenty-seven children and school staff were killed that day by deranged Adam Lanza, who also shot and killed his mother.

Just last October, a shooter in Las Vegas killed 58 people and injured 851 more.

Unfortunately, up to now, our elected officials have not made real progress on preventing further mass shootings.

That is hopefully changing. Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, and Senator Chris Murray, a Democrat from Connecticut, introduced the Fix NICS Act last year.

The goal of the measure is to make sure that federal and state authorities regularly provide accurate and up to date criminal history information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the NICS. That system is used throughout the country to determine whether a potential buyer is prohibited from owning a firearm because he or she has committed a crime, is mentally ill or is otherwise disqualified.

The bill was prompted by the shooting in a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church by Devin Patrick Kelley. Kelley killed 26 innocent people. Kelley would not have been able to buy a gun if his background info had been correctly reported to the NICS.

Fix NICS was passed in the House of Representatives late last year. It was merged with legislation enhancing concealed carry rights throughout the country. That combination is not likely to pass in the Senate. However, Fix NICS on its own has broad bipartisan support in the Senate, with both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer getting behind the bill, which is very unusual these days.

President Trump announced on Monday that he, too, supports a stronger federal background check system.

Here is the bottom line: the Fix NICS Act is an important step in enforcing the gun control laws we already have on the books. It is vital to have a modern and effective system for determining eligibility to own a gun. The Fix NICS Act should be passed as a stand-alone measure in Congress and signed by the president.

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