Thompson, King Call for Funding to Strengthen Criminal Background Checks

Press Release


Washington – Today, Reps. Mike Thompson (CA-05) and Pete King (NY-02) led 167 bipartisan Members of Congress in calling on appropriators to provide funds to strengthen our criminal background check system. Thompson and King requested funding to implement the National Instant Background Checks Systems (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act, which gives grants to states seeking to upgrade their electronic databases.

“The safety of Americans relies on keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them—and we do that by making sure their names are in our background check system,” said Thompson. “Studies have shown there are huge backlogs of names still waiting to be entered into NICS. These people are criminals and domestic abusers whom the law has found should not have a gun—but they may still be able to get one if they can pass a background check. We must make sure states have the resources needed to keep our background check system current.”

“When background checks are used, they keep guns out of the hands of people we all agree shouldn’t have guns. It is estimated that four out of ten gun buyers do not go through a background check when purchasing a firearm—meaning those with criminal records can easily bypass the system. As government officials it is our responsibility to protect our citizens, and when it comes to gun violence we must do more. I will continue to push for action and support efforts to reduce gun violence which includes keeping our background databases current,” said King.

Background checks have prevented more than 2.4 million gun sales since they began in 1994, keeping firearms out of the hands of felons, fugitives, the dangerously mentally ill, and domestic abusers. Unfortunately, NICS—the database used to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase a gun—is missing information. Because of this, people who otherwise should not be able to pass a background check can slip through the cracks and buy a firearm.

The full text of Thompson and King’s letter can be found here: