By Donna Beth Weilenman
Martinez News Gazette
Special to the Benicia Herald
Two U.S. Representatives, including Mike Thompson in whose district are both Benicia and portions of Martinez, are leading the bipartisan call for funding to strengthen the nation’s background check system.
Joining Thompson (D-CA-05) is Pete King, a Republican from New York’s District 2 in leading 167 bipartisan members of Congress in asking appropriators to provide funds to strengthen the National Instant Background Checks System (NICS) Improvement Amendments Act that gives grants to states that want to upgrade their electronic databases.
“The safety of Americans relies on keeping guns out of the hands of people who should not have them,” Thompson said. “And we do that by making sure their names are in our background check system.”
He said studies have indicated “huge backlogs of names” are 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,” he said. “We must make sure states have the resources needed to keep our background check system current.”
Thompson said background checks have prevented more than 2.4 million gun sales since 1994, and have kept firearms from getting into the hands of “felons, fugitives, the dangerously mentally ill and the domestic abusers.”
However, he said, NICS is missing information needed to determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to purchase a gun. “Because of this, people who otherwise should not be able to pass a background check can slip through the cracks and buy a firearm.”