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#1 User is offline   Ladybird 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 03:59 PM

What Happened to the $1.3 Billion Congress Approved to Improve Federal Gun Background Checks?
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007 was intended to improve lapses in state record keeping that have allowed dangerous people like Dylann Roof to get a gun. Here’s why almost 90 percent of that money has never been spent.

BY ALEX YABLON · @ALEXYABLON·July 27, 2015
Like many programs aimed at preventing bad behavior, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) only makes the news when it fails. Rarely has it failed more prominently than in the case of alleged Charleston church shooter Dylann Roof, who got his hands on a gun despite a disqualifying confession for drug use after spotty record-keeping allowed his Glock purchase to move forward on a so-called default proceed. This week, questions about the effectiveness of federal background checks have swirled again as journalists and investigators seek a definitive answer on whether Lafayette movie theater shooter John Hauser was involuntarily committed to a Georgia mental ward. If he was, that should have barred him from buying a gun – as long as the record made it into the system, which itself is far from a sure thing.

While critics argue NICS allows dangerous people to slip through the cracks, one architect of the program counters that the system is as good as the material it’s got to work with. Frank Campbell, a former senior attorney for the FBI and the Department of Justice, was in charge of implementing the federal background check system created by the Brady Act of 1993 and managed the program from its launch until he left the government in 2008. Now working as a security consultant, Campbell says that the only obstacle to a fully-functional NICS system is getting fast, accurate access to local and state records, which are often inconsistent and sometimes still in paper files.

Congress agrees: Back in 2008, President George W. Bush signed a bill authorizing more than $1 billion in grants to improve local records reporting. What’s got Campbell confused is why — if there’s so much consensus around the idea that NICS would work better if states did a better job of reporting records to the FBI – almost none of the money authorized in 2008 has actually been released.

“There’s been no publicly stated reason by Congress or the President why they ask for so little in their budgets,” Campbell tells The Trace. “It doesn’t make any sense.”

This summer’s mass shootings have provided indelible examples of the real-world consequences of these reporting gaps. Overall, 90 percent of background checks take less than two minutes to complete. But when the initial scan leaves the buyer’s eligibility in doubt, the application is given a “yellow light,” and FBI examiners have three business days to track down the information that will resolve whether the sale should move forward; after that deadline, the purchase can go through whether or even if the background check remains incomplete. That’s how a gun store was legally allowed to sell Roof the handgun he used to kill nine people in Charleston: An administrative error meant NICS investigators couldn’t see the specifics of his local drug charge, pushing his background check past the time limit.

<snip>

In 2009, the first year funds became available, the law gave the green light to $187.5 million in grants. Only $2.5 million was actually appropriated. Funding has significantly increased under the Obama Administration but still has never come close to the amounts called for by the bill, peaking in the fiscal year 2015 budget at $78 million before falling to $55 million in the President’s 2016 budget request. Unused authorizations do not roll over, so funds not appropriated within one year’s budget are no longer available.

“Some of the gun control groups thought the battle was over [when this law passed],” says former Congressman James Moran, a Democrat who represented Virginia’s 8th District from 1991 to 2015, and served on the House Appropriations Committee. “But the insiders realized it didn’t matter how much was authorized if the appropriations committee doesn’t fund it.”

Former and present Hill staffers who spoke to The Trace on background felt the paltry funding level was a consequence of how the grants’ eligibility criteria were written. Under the Act, states are required to have a “relief from disability” program, through which persons deemed ineligible for gun ownership due to mental health diagnoses or criminal records can petition for the restoration of their rights.

<snip>

James Moran had a more political explanation for the parsimoniousness. Back in 2007, the NRA publicly applauded the Act for its relief from disability provision and the fact that it barred federal fees for NICS checks. It looked like a non-controversial way to better enforce current laws. But Moran says the NRA then turned around and worked with allies in Congress to cut off funding for these grants when the appropriations committee put each year’s budget together.

“Everybody knew what was going on — the NRA never wanted any records kept,” says Moran. Keeping the background check system incomplete, Moran believes, allows the NRA to point to it as a failed system and rally against its expansion to private sales.

Knowing the NRA would excel in this backroom maneuvering, Moran says, moderates and Democrats didn’t bother putting up a fuss over the grants issue. While those lawmakers may have agreed that states needed help completing records, Moran believes they also knew that “to fund this program, they’d be forced to take money from other areas.” And because messy appropriations fights take place largely out of public view, no one would know if they weren’t willing to make that trade off. The original act’s authorization provided political cover to everyone in Congress. “Having the appearance of action was an excuse for not doing other things,” Moran says.

Frank Campbell also believes the NRA’s foes have let this issue languish: A colleague who worked in the Department of Justice during Obama’s first term told him that under the current administration, NICS record improvement had “gone to seed.”

The NRA did not respond to request for comment on Moran’s charges. The Trace contacted the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, as well as the White House Office of Management and Budget, to comment on the gap between money authorized to modernize and complete the background check system and what was actually dispensed. None replied.

<snip>

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#2 User is online   Noclevermoniker 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 04:29 PM

“Everybody knew what was going on — the NRA never wanted any records kept,” says Moran. Keeping the background check system incomplete, Moran believes, allows the NRA to point to it as a failed system and rally against its expansion to private sales.

Nice bit of unsubstantiated hearsay, but do carry on.
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#3 User is offline   mjperry51 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 04:32 PM

So we have an uncorroborated assertion about the NRA. And we have an admission from an Obama bureaucrat that they dropped the ball. . .

Was that your point? Tell me - how many mass shooters were members of the NRA??
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#4 User is offline   intotheblackhole 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 04:42 PM

The NCIC system did not fail. It worked as intended. What failed was the military did not enter the data needed for NCIC to work.

No new laws would have prevented this tragedy. If everyone has played by the rules then it would have worked as intended.
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#5 User is online   Noclevermoniker 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 04:47 PM

View Postintotheblackhole, on 07 November 2017 - 04:42 PM, said:

The NCIC system did not fail. It worked as intended. What failed was the military did not enter the data needed for NCIC to work.

No new laws would have prevented this tragedy. If everyone has played by the rules then it would have worked as intended.

Or not. For a legal purchase, perhaps. But bad actors get a hold of weapons if they desire them. If everyone had played by the rules, no murders would have occurred. People are trying to project rational actions and judgments on irrational people.
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#6 User is offline   intotheblackhole 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:27 PM

View PostNoclevermoniker, on 07 November 2017 - 04:47 PM, said:

Or not. For a legal purchase, perhaps. But bad actors get a hold of weapons if they desire them. If everyone had played by the rules, no murders would have occurred. People are trying to project rational actions and judgments on irrational people.


The NCIS did not fail and worked as intended. The NCIS is not intended to work outside of the legal process for obtaining a firearm.

I would love to see the say when criminals go through the legal process to obtain a firearm. That will be the same day pigs fly.
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#7 User is online   Noclevermoniker 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:35 PM

View Postintotheblackhole, on 07 November 2017 - 05:27 PM, said:

The NCIS did not fail and worked as intended. The NCIS is not intended to work outside of the legal process for obtaining a firearm.

I would love to see the say when criminals go through the legal process to obtain a firearm. That will be the same day pigs fly.


I figure the extra money got diverted to Obamaphones, anyway.
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#8 User is offline   intotheblackhole 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 05:50 PM

I am sure the money got diverted to Obama.
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#9 User is offline   Rock N' Roll Right Winger 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 07:09 PM

View Postmjperry51, on 07 November 2017 - 04:32 PM, said:

So we have an uncorroborated assertion about the NRA. And we have an admission from an Obama bureaucrat that they dropped the ball. . .

Was that your point? Tell me - how many mass shooters were members of the NRA??

:exactly:

The feds are keeping tabs on all of the law abiding citizens (to disarm them/us to impose tyranny), not the criminals.
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#10 User is online   gravelrash 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 07:35 PM

That $1.3 billion is but a corncob in the slop that feeds the bureaucrats. The Establishment argument is government is "too big to fail".
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#11 User is offline   Severian 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:21 PM

Note they say the reason many states didn't get funds was they didn't implement ways for people to get their rights back if they were no longer considered a threat or if there was a mistake. How dare they hold back anti-gun funding because states didn't care about restoring people's rights. Plus, it's the f'ing government, why in the hell do you expect them to ever do anything right?
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#12 User is offline   corporal_little 

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Posted 07 November 2017 - 09:38 PM

This just proves the point we’ve been saying all along - these so called “common sense” gun laws aren’t worth the paper the laws are printed on.
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