DANBURY, Conn. -- Reps. Elizabeth Esty (D-CT) joined with nine congressional colleagues last week to lead over 150 others in calling for funds to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The bipartisan letter was addressed to Reps. John Culberson (R-TX) and Mike Honda (D-CA), who lead the House appropriations subcommittee charged with writing legislation to fund the U.S. Department of Justice. The representatives requested funding of $73 million for NICS, to help states improve their inputs into the system, to ensure the database is as up-to-date and comprehensive as possible.
The letter included, in part,
We fully understand the current constraints on the federal budget and appropriations process. Keeping citizens safe, however, must be Congress' top priority," the representatives wrote. "(NICS) has been severely underfunded in years past, and the-all-too-frequent tragedies across our nation unfortunately show that gun violence is still a very serious issue that plagues our country. Ensuring NICS has complete and timely information to keep firearms out of the hands of persons who cannot safely and legally possess them while at the same time protecting Americans' Second Amendment rights will save lives.
In January, President Barack Obama announced executive actions to reduce and prevent gun violence, including by reducing legal ambiguities. Currently, only licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks for all gun sales -- and only those "engaged in the business" of dealing in guns are required get a license from the ATF.
The executive actions clarify the term, including anyone making a profit from selling guns, regularly making gun sales or earning their livelihood from gun sales is "engaged in the business" and so must get a license and conduct background checks -- even at a gun show or over the internet. With increased gun sales that require background checks, having a comprehensive database will be even more important.
The other four members of the Connecticut Congressional delegation also signed on to the letter, which is attached below.
Esty's Fifth District encompasses much of northwestern Connecticut, including Danbury, Brookfield, Sherman, New Fairfield, Bethel and Newtown. Her website is here.See Attachment
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