Bill Would Make Gun Buyers Pay Fee for NICS Checks

Most of the money for the fees would go toward gun violence research, not the NICS system.

Rep. Nydia Valazquez (D-NY)
Rep. Nydia Valazquez (D-NY)web photo

You know the NICS background check that you’re forced to go through and wait for every time you purchase a firearm—the ones that can sometimes take more than a day or two to complete? Now, a congresswoman from New York wants you to pay for every NICS check.

And that money wouldn’t go toward fixing the often broken and poorly structured NICS system, oh no. Money paid by law abiding gun owners, who wouldn’t be able to pass the check if they were a felon, for their own background check to be performed would go toward “funding gun violence research and victim assistance.”

According to this story from guns.com, HR 3987, introduced by Rep. Nydia Valazquez earlier this month, is titled the Protecting Americans from Gun Violence Act of 2017. It would assess gun buyers a $1 fee for NICS checks that, since their adoption in 1998, have been free and administered by the FBI.

“As structured in Velazquez’s proposal, the first $10 million in fees collected every year would be earmarked for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to carry out gun research.  Designated under the Public Health Service Act, the funds could then be distributed by CDC via grants to both public and private nonprofits and to individuals engaged in such research. The $10 million per year figure has long been a benchmark for Democrats on Capitol Hill seeking to put the nation’s health protection agency on a footing to study crime, suicide, and injuries involving guns as a health issue.”

After all that, the next $5 million in fees would go toward running NICS itself. Any additional funds would go to the DOJ’s Office for Victim Assistance.

Since 1993, over 250 million NICS checks have been performed. In 2016 alone, the FBI performed 27 million NICS checks, which included an estimated 15.8 million gun sales, the story says.

But that’s not all the bill would do, and pay attention to this: the bill would also require gun dealers to maintain a written or electronic record of the NICS transaction fee along with a timestamped receipt for at least three years in addition to current regulatory requirements on sales and transfer records under threat of a $2,500 civil penalty.

Plus, the legislation would also require any privately-owned firearms that are lost or stolen be reported to law enforcement within 48 hours. Violators would be subject to a year in jail and a $10,000 fine.