Frelinghuysen Backs Better Gun Background Checks

By on March 3, 2018

Rodney Frelinghuysen

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, speaking to a Verona High School class in February 2017.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11), who represents the congressional district that includes Verona, said Friday that he is calling on Congress to pass a bipartisan bill to reauthorize the National Criminal Instate Background Check System (NICS) and make improvements to it:

“In the wake of another horrific attack on innocent school children and teachers, this one in Florida, it is time for tough questions: How could this have happened again? What system failures occurred here? How can we correct them? What can we do to make our schools safer?

“Yes, the analysis is underway. But we can act now.

“As a start, Congress should immediately take up and pass the bipartisan “Fix NICS Act” (National Criminal Instate Background Check System (NICS) to strengthen our nation’s background check system and prevent gun violence before it occurs. I joined several of my House colleagues last week in sending a letter to Speaker Ryan asking him to schedule a vote on the bipartisan “Fix NICS,” H.R. 4434, bill as soon as possible.

“The “Fix NICS” bill would reauthorize and improve the National Criminal Instate Background Check System (NICS).

“Let’s face it: a background check is only as good as the records in the database. This bill requires that compliance certification measures be put in place and that agencies, such as the FBI or local law enforcement, would be penalized for not reporting precise information to the NICS.

“Accurate and timely background checks must be the first line of defense in our national efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and persons who are dangerously mentally ill. Therefore, a critically important component is the “sharing of mental health and criminal record information between state and local agencies and the federal background check database.”

“It also goes without saying that we should be studying and supporting common-sense ways to make our schools safer for our children through increased security measures – metal detectors, lock-down policies, armed guards, etc.

“But other institutions are also at risk. That is why I have directed the Appropriations Committee to double the size of the Non-Profit Security Grant program in the Homeland Security Appropriations bill. This program provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements to nonprofit organizations, many being faith-based, that are at high risk of attack.

“And while Congress has enacted sweeping mental health reform, these improvements still have a ways to go before they are fully implemented. We need to carefully, and promptly, examine system failures and determine if additional changes are needed.

“I have been impressed by the determination of the students who have mobilized to petition their government for real change. These young people are passionate about this cause and we will work to find common ground on solutions that can help prevent this senseless violence.

“The “Fix NICS” bill is another important step!

“Read the text of the bill here.

The local chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America urged Frelinghuysen to go further. “To make a significant impact to reduce the 96 deaths that happen every day due to gun violence, Congress needs to pass legislation that requires background checks on all gun sales,” said Christine McGrath, a Verona resident who is the Essex County co-leader of Moms Demand Action. “Currently background checks only apply to sales of guns made at federally licensed dealers. Individuals who purchase guns at gun shows, online, or through private sales are not required to pass a background check under federal law, and this gaping hole allows criminals and domestic abusers to obtain dangerous weapons. 93% of Americans support background checks for all gun sales, and this is the legislation that we want Congressman Frelinghuysen to support.” Moms Demand Action will have a meeting in Montclair about common-sense solutions to gun violence on Tuesday morning, March 6, at 9:30 a.m. at the First Congregational Church.

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Frelinghuysen announced in January that he would be retiring at the end of his current term, after more than two decades in Congress. Both Mikie Sherrill and Tamara Harris, who are seeking the Democratic nomination, support universal criminal background checks on all firearm sales. Jay Webber, a state assemblyman who currently represents the district that includes Verona, is now running for the Republican nomination. He is a gun rights advocate and has not taken a position on NICS on his campaign website. Antony Ghee, who is also seeking the Republican nomination, did not specifically address NICS in his campaign announcement, in which he pledged to focus on “getting guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, while protecting our 2nd Amendment rights.”

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