House Judiciary Committee Passes Bipartisan Initiative Led by Esty to Improve Gun Background Check System
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Fix NICS Act, legislation to strengthen the nation’s gun background check system introduced by a bipartisan group of House lawmakers including Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty (CT-5), passed the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday. The bill, which would ensure that federal and state authorities comply with current law and report accurate information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), is the most significant bipartisan legislation to address the nation’s epidemic of gun violence since the failure of the Manchin-Toomey proposal in 2013.
The bill now heads to the full House for consideration just over two weeks before the five-year anniversary of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
The Fix NICS Act passed alongside the Concealed Carry Reciprocity Act, legislation to make concealed-carry permits valid across state lines, thus allowing gun owners from states with lax gun permitting standards to carry concealed firearms in states with stronger rules. Weakening protections further, the bill would require states to allow their own residents to carry guns with permits received elsewhere in the country. Critics contend that weakening states’ ability to set strong concealed-carry standards would undermine the mission of preventing future gun violence tragedies.
“I am certainly happy that lawmakers in both parties recognize the importance of strengthening our background check system,” Esty said. “It’s unacceptable, however, that progress came at the cost of a major step backward for communities who want to keep people safe from concealed weapons. Let’s be clear on the reason why we’re considering these reforms in the first place: our schools, parks, movie theaters, and places of worship have turned into killing fields by the weapons of war all too prevalent in our communities.
“I hope we can continue to work together on a bipartisan basis to keep our families safe. We need a path forward that recognizes the rights and the safety of every American. Closing the gaps in our background check system is that path.”
Esty, who represents Newtown, Connecticut, is a Vice-Chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force.