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Old November 16, 2017, 05:30 PM   #1
SonOfScubaDiver
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Bill unveiled to strengthen background checks

I heard about this in my car as I was arriving home from work an hour or so ago. It seems that a bipartisan deal has been reached to strengthen the background check system, in response to the recent Texas church shooting.

https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/pol...veiled-n821256
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Old November 16, 2017, 05:39 PM   #2
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I guess if we have to have a background check system, I don't object to having it work. That said, all that's supposed to be reported is people who have been "adjudicated" mentally defective or who have been involuntarily committed to a mental health facility for treatment. If this is going topen the floodgates to reporting anyone and everyone who ever mentioned having a down day ... then I'm opposed.

Yes, Veterans Administration, I'm looking at you.
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Old November 16, 2017, 06:18 PM   #3
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This is a double edged sword, like Aguila Blanca I have no objections to stronger background checks...as it does not affect me, but this is a powerful tool to be used by unscrupulous people and organizations which could have just as much as a negative effect.
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Old November 16, 2017, 06:46 PM   #4
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Based on the article, that bill is about getting various agencies to properly report the necessary information, not tightening restrictions. The shooter in Texas was incarcerated for a year for domestic violence, but the conviction was never reported or added to NICS. The bill sounds to me like accountabillity and incentives to various state agencies to get them to report what they should have been already.
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Old November 16, 2017, 07:02 PM   #5
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Exactly, GarandTd. They're trying to make the existing system work like it's supposed to, thereby strengthening it. Since it came out that the Texas shooter had fallen through the cracks because of reporting issues, I have been hoping that something would be done to address it. I'm pleased that it appears that this bill has at least enough support to move through the process.
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Old November 16, 2017, 07:15 PM   #6
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I'm not a lunatic or a criminal, so background checks don't bother me too much. I do have a problem with authoritative entities not doing their part to make this country a safer place. There is no excuse for it. While accountability is a step in the right direction, it is of little consolation to the loved ones left behind by mass shootings perpetrated by cases that "fell through the cracks".
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Old November 16, 2017, 07:16 PM   #7
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Several news organizations have reported that the NRA has endorsed the bill.
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Old November 16, 2017, 08:24 PM   #8
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The bill is endorsed by NRA and NSSF and basically is just an updated 2007 NICS Improvement Act with more funding to report data to NICS. However, the Obama Administration funded 321 new employees to handle NICS checks in January 2016, and the FBI has been unable to fill all of the positions it has funds for....

Something to keep in mind the next time somebody suggests expanding NICS to all sales.
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Old November 16, 2017, 08:44 PM   #9
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It is frustrating that the antis want to add more and more laws and restrictions when we've been telling them all along that we have the laws in place already... we just need to enforce them properly. What good is a law that isn't enforced? Why add more restrictions when they can't enforce the existing laws?

If this helps keep guns out of the hands of people who absolutely should not have them then it's a good thing. If it's further lip service then what's the point? Another 'feel good' law that's not enforced?
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Old November 16, 2017, 08:51 PM   #10
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So this bill will force compliance to those who should have been doing their job?

Yeah let’s just layer on the bureaucracy.

I have a problem with background checks because they don’t work and the definition of “bad guy” can be adjusted.


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Old November 16, 2017, 08:55 PM   #11
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Wonder what the requirements are. My wife has been looking for a job since OPM abandoned USIS and they shut their doors. It's like she's been black listed and can't get a job anywhere.
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Old November 16, 2017, 11:14 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GarandTd
Based on the article, that bill is about getting various agencies to properly report the necessary information, not tightening restrictions.
The devil is in the details, and here (IMHO) the key word is "properly." I don't have positive proof, but it has been widely reported that the Veterans Administration has been reporting veterans to NICS as prohibited on mental health grounds not for an adjudication or involuntary commitment, but simply for appointing someone to handle their finances.

That would be an "improper" report, and that's what I worry about. I've read too many articles about aw-thaw-rih-tays who do this, that, and the other "out of an abundance of caution." I'm a pretty cautious type myself, but when "out of an abundance of caution" results in reporting people who don't "properly" fit the criteria for being reported, then I have a problem with the system. (Or with the abuse of the system, to be more accurate.)
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Old November 17, 2017, 01:27 AM   #13
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Aguila Blanca raises a fair point. Under the current Administration, we hopefully will not see abuses of the gray areas in definitions; but the fact remains that there are gray areas in the definitions and we are rewarding federal agencies with money for reporting more people. Ultimately, that will be a problem if we don't better define those gray areas and this bill does not do that.

I think ultimately we need to seek out some kind of blockchain, decentralized background check if we want to preserve the Second Amendment. If we stick to traditional views, we'll end up with registration and confiscation. I mean, even from a gun-control perspective, the current system is a 1968 implementation of a 1930s Nazi law. Even if you thought the premise was valid, there is a lot of room for improvement in the last 50 years.
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Old November 17, 2017, 07:19 AM   #14
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I agree about the devil in the details. I know how those bills work. Alot of shady things slip by in that fashion. I also agree that this shouldn't be about the numbers of people or cases reported to NICS, but about the relevancy of those cases. Some one that reported feeling depressed because they couldn't provide for their family during the holidays is not the same as a physically abusive parent that tortures animals.
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Old November 17, 2017, 09:09 AM   #15
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In the case of the Veterans Administration, I don't think there is any gray area involved. "Adjudicated" means what it says. The VA has simply, unilaterally decided that words no longer have meaning, and that their administrative determination is the same thing as adjudication. Which, of course, it isn't -- but most of the veterans improperly reported can't afford an attorney to contest the classification.

What's sad is that the result works counter to the VA's goal of helping younger veterans who may be suffering PTSD. Once they know (and if at 70+ years old I know, it's reasonable to think that a large percentage of the younger guys know) about this problem (which has been widely written about in VFW publications and discussed on veterans' web sites), they will simply NOT ask for counseling rather than risk having their 2A rights taken away.

This is a result of the "out of an abundance of caution" mentality. The VA actively screens for the slightest hint of potential PTSD. Every time I go to the VA hospital for a routine physical, the intake form asks if I am feeling well today, and if I have felt even a little bit sad since my last appointment. What normal person doesn't feel a little bit sad from time to time? But, am I going to admit that to the VA? Heck no!

As I've commented to friends, it doesn't matter if my wife just ran away with my best friend, my dog died, my pickup truck just got run over by a bulldozer and my house just burned to the ground ... I feel great, never had a sad day in my life. No, Sir, everything in my life is just perfect.
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Old November 17, 2017, 09:58 AM   #16
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Here is another article on the proposed bill.

https://townhall.com/notebook/bethba...&newsletterad=

Quote:
This bill penalizes federal agencies who fail to report relevant criminal records to the FBI and creates an incentive for states to make sure their reporting is up-to-date by giving federal grant preferences to states who comply. The bill also directs more federal funding to make sure domestic violence records are accurately reported to the FBI.
It always puts a burr under saddle when the so called "fix" is to through more money at the problem. Why not just require those already on the payroll to do their job instead.

Here is the actual Bill, nothing yet.

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-...n%22%5D%7D&r=1
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Old November 17, 2017, 10:10 AM   #17
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LINK to bill text from Sen. John Cornyn's official webpage.

From a quick reading, the main highlights are:
  • Federal agencies and state and Indian tribal governments are required to cooperate with the AG and create an Implementation Plan for reporting all records pertinent to NICS to the FBI;
  • The AG has to prepare and public semiannual reports summarizing what federal agencies have done to comply with NICS;
  • The AG is required to take affirmative steps to correct erroneous NICS information within 60 days;
  • Funding is provided to various agencies for compliance efforts.
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Old November 17, 2017, 12:09 PM   #18
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Quote:
So this bill will force compliance to those who should have been doing their job?
This is a yes, and no, kind of thing. The Feds (and the Fed law) cannot force those who do not work directly for the Federal govt to do anything. Federal agencies (VA, SSA, Air Force, etc.,) the Fed has the authority to order them to do their job better, and do it right. (effectiveness of the order will vary)

Records created by STATE govts, courts, etc. cannot be "forced" by the Fed, directly. The Fed law can order states to comply, but there is no authority to force any specific level of compliance. That must be done by the state govts, and to get them to do so, the Fed offers them money.

ONE of the problems with the system is that different groups use different terms and definitions for things. Another is that the Lautenberg law is so broadly (and to my mind, badly) written that it makes prohibited persons out of people who were not prohibited persons before, and uses criteria that state courts may not even be aware of, when it comes to submittal of various records.

The recent case in focus is the Air Force's failure to report the DV conviction of the Texas killer. Yes, the Air Force dropped the ball on that one,.. sort of. But it appears that they didn't know they had the ball in their hands, because of the differences in bureaucratic standards, regarding terminology and records.

And here, the wording of the Fed law is partially to blame. It has been reported that the Air Force did not have a separate category for domestic violence in their record keeping system. (no doubt that since attention is now being focused on that, it will soon change..)

So a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction (which, under the Lautenberg law is sufficient to make one a prohibited person) was reported as a misdemeanor assault, which does NOT make one a prohibited person. Felony assault does. This double standard in punishment, thanks to the Federal law, and the Air Force's definitions is why the killer "slipped through the cracks".

Another issue, ALSO dealing with various agencies different definitions is the VA, and SSA reporting "prohibited person" status to NICS. Remember the flap over the Trump administration "making it easier for crazy people to get guns"?

Trump didn't do that. What was done was to change some internal standards and definitions, which had NO effect on people legally classed as prohibited persons (via due process and compliance with existing law). Social Security (specifically) was using their own in house criteria to determine if a person was "mentally disabled" enough to qualify for aid. This is fine, its what they are supposed to do.

HOWEVER, those "in house" criteria are NOT the same as the legally required due process to declare a person mentally incompetent and strip them of their 2nd Amendment rights. This is also ok, as long as SSA's in house determination is only applied to "in house" social security matters.

But, this was not all that was being done. SSA's report of an individual's mental incompetence was being reported to NICS, and NICS only has one "box" for that, which is "mentally incompetent = prohibited person". The Trump administration stopped that, stopped the automatic classification of people as prohibited because they were being made prohibited persons WITHOUT the legally required due process being followed.

For that, the media claimed (and still does when the subject comes up) that they made it "easier for crazy people to get guns". A total lie, but one that plays well to their target audience, and one that is accepted by those who simply are not aware of the truth.

The VA has been (is?) doing something similar, Using their own, in house definitions, and reporting those to NCIS as if they were the legal standard definition arrived at through due process of law. They aren't, but again, NICS accepted them as if they were.

To be fair to the FBI/NICS, I do not believe that they are charged with determining the accuracy of the data provided to them, only to use that data in accordance with the regulation and the law. In other words, its not NICS's job to determine if the VA or SSA, or other agencies reporting data to them are lying about the accuracy of the data.
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Old November 17, 2017, 12:29 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 44 AMP
...The Feds (and the Fed law) cannot force those who do not work directly for the Federal govt to do anything. Federal agencies (VA, SSA, Air Force, etc.,) the Fed has the authority to order them to do their job better, and do it right. (effectiveness of the order will vary)

Records created by STATE govts, courts, etc. cannot be "forced" by the Fed, directly. The Fed law can order states to comply, but there is no authority to force any specific level of compliance. That must be done by the state govts, and to get them to do so, the Fed offers them money.
True, but at least the bill would establish a reporting process for state gov't and federal agency compliance with NICS.

Although I could see this potentially being misused by anti-gun groups for propaganda purposes, it's potentially a first step in establishing a mechanism for holding agencies and state governments accountable BEFORE a massive failure like the one that led to Sutherland Springs. It should also help uncover shenanigans like those at the SSA, as a sudden spike in NICS denials would be readily apparent without the press and activist groups having to dig for the information.
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Old November 17, 2017, 12:49 PM   #20
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I'm for better reporting. If the Feds have to twist a couple nipples to get people off their kiesters.... Money well-spent.

Agreed: there's always the potential for abuse whenever a law is passed.
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Old November 17, 2017, 04:20 PM   #21
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This quite possibly is very obvious but I'd like to get confirmation or correction on these points.

1. As the states and localities get with the program there will be more folk added to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS prohibited list.

2. Because we are all human there will be more folk on the prohibited list that are there by mistake.

3. To get off the prohibited list, you would have to go to the state, county, city, jurisdiction and get THEM to correct the error that put you on the prohibited list.

4. You would then need to get the jurisdiction that put you on the list to send the correction upstream to the NICS folk.

Is this correct?

Question: If you are denied by the NICS will the NICS folk tell you which jurisdiction has a beef with you?

Question: If you are denied by the NICS and the problem is totally with the NICS (e.g. "John Smith" gets denied but his SSN is different than the "John Smith" the NICS folk have on their prohibited list) can/will the NICS folk fix the problem without you having to get evidence that you have not been convicted of anything?

I think it's obvious there is going to be more reviews/complaints with the NICS folk. I hope they are going to hire more folk to deal with the situation.
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Old November 17, 2017, 08:31 PM   #22
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As long as it only serves to make the database more accurate, I don't have an issue with it. It's sad that they need to throw more money at it to get people to follow the law and report criminal convictions and adjudications.

Will it help? Maybe marginally, but that margin is measured in lives, so I can get behind this, so long as no one tries to tinker with definitions/add poison pill amendments, etc.
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Old November 20, 2017, 12:24 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaleA
Question: If you are denied by the NICS will the NICS folk tell you which jurisdiction has a beef with you?

Question: If you are denied by the NICS and the problem is totally with the NICS (e.g. "John Smith" gets denied but his SSN is different than the "John Smith" the NICS folk have on their prohibited list) can/will the NICS folk fix the problem without you having to get evidence that you have not been convicted of anything?
I am not an FFL dealer, but my understanding from past threads with FFLs is that the operator who answers the NICS phone call can ONLY give the FFL one of three answers: "Approved," "Denied," or "Delayed." The NICS operator supposedly cannot see any other information on their computer.

If the answer is "Denied," or if the purchase is subsequently denied after being delayed, the buyer can then appeal the denial through the FBI. It's my understanding that the reasons for the denial are sometimes divulged during the appeal process, but not always; in some cases, the answer basically amounts to "Oops, we dunno what happened."

The bill contains a provision giving the AG 60 days to remove erroneous information that led to an incorrect NICS denial.
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Last edited by carguychris; November 20, 2017 at 12:29 PM. Reason: reword
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Old November 20, 2017, 12:46 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by carguychris View Post
I am not an FFL dealer, but my understanding from past threads with FFLs is that the operator who answers the NICS phone call can ONLY give the FFL one of three answers: "Approved," "Denied," or "Delayed." The NICS operator supposedly cannot see any other information on their computer.

If the answer is "Denied," or if the purchase is subsequently denied after being delayed, the buyer can then appeal the denial through the FBI. It's my understanding that the reasons for the denial are sometimes divulged during the appeal process, but not always; in some cases, the answer basically amounts to "Oops, we dunno what happened."

The bill contains a provision giving the AG 60 days to remove erroneous information that led to an incorrect NICS denial.

If the NICS bureacracy is anything like the no fly list, I wouldn't hold my breath for erroneous information or mistakes to be corrected. I vaguely recall a Senator having problems with the no-fly list and it took him months for it to be corrected and it would probably take Joe Average years to correct
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Old November 20, 2017, 04:56 PM   #25
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Originally Posted by ATN082268
If the NICS bureacracy is anything like the no fly list, I wouldn't hold my breath for erroneous information or mistakes to be corrected.
Perhaps, but I would argue that the underlying problem in both cases is the lack of a firm statutory requirement for the AG to correct erroneous information in a prompt manner.

I haven't followed the dispute over the No-Fly list closely, but my understanding is that the statutes surrounding the list are very loosely constructed, and this is one of the main objections to the list among individual-rights advocates.

IMHO the 60-day requirement to correct erroneous NICS information is a big check mark in this bill's favor.
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