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Improving the National Instant Background Screening System for Firearms Purchases: Recommendations by SEARCH Version 2

NCJ Number
Date Published
February 2013
19 pages
SEARCH (the National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics) addresses some of the most pressing issues that have been raised since recent gun-related tragedies have renewed the Nation's focus on the background check system for firearms purchases.
SEARCH urges the U.S. Congress to ensure that all States receive or are eligible for grant funding that supports improvements in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) and that new funding is authorized and appropriated for this work. This effort should be based on incentives for such improvements rather than penalties. SEARCH presents seven core principles for such a funding program. First, all States must qualify for the funding. Second, grants should give States the discretion to address specific challenges they face in making more records available to the national system. Third, funding should encourage adherence to performance metrics and accountability measures. Fourth, consideration should be given to eliminating a funding match from the States. Fifth, States should receive incentives rather than penalties, so as to facilitate their compliance with grant requirements. Sixth, Congress should fund technical assistance and technology investments for States to improve automated information-sharing systems in support of NICS. Seventh, the States' capacity to conduct background screening for firearms purchases should be expanded. Information is presented on the features and funding of the NICS. Suggested resources and reading are listed.