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Another NICS in the wall

So, here’s the post on the new National Instant Check System (NICS) bill. The NICS is the database that is used to determine if the purchaser of a firearm is a prohibited person. As I said before, the measure seems to offer incentives in the form of grants to states that keep their NICS data up to date. That is, the bill largely serves as a means to pay for things that are already law. Conversely, states that do not can lose law enforcement grants from the feds. In short, I’m rather unconcerned about the whole thing.

David Hardy has the some of the text from the bill. He notes that:

Most of the bill is 20+ pages of verbiage about grants to states to improve input of mental health records. For me, the critical language is a couple of sections that essentially let a person who was committed at some point in their lives escape the lifetime bar that now exists. The wording is a trifle awkward at times, but as I read it, if the court that committed them makes a finding that they are not a danger any more, or the state creates an entity that can make a similar finding, they’re not a prohibited person and their name comes off the NICS list.

Allowing those who have their rights revoked an opportunity to have their rights restored is a good thing. It seems there is no remedy for relief for other minor infractions (like say a non-violent felony conviction). That has been part of the law but has never been funded by the congress. Some states have provisions for the restoration of rights but they seem at odds with the feds over that. The policy of the ATF has been to follow state law, unless said former prohibited person crosses state lines. However, I will make the prediction that this portion of the law will never be funded. Why do I make that prediction? Because that’s been the case since the the Brady Law authorized the same thing.

GOA opposes the bill.

The bill should clarify the term adjudicated mentally defective, but I’ve seen no evidence that it does. Currently, ATF policy defines that term rather broadly. I think the bill should clarify that term as open-ended definitions lead to policy issues.

The NRA’s Wayne LaPierre says unequivocally that this is not a gun gun control bill and that efforts to make it so will be opposed by the NRA. Says Wayne:

There’s been a lot of confusion and questions surrounding NRA’s position on a NICS improvement bill that’s being written in Congress. Part of the confusion comes from the fact that the anti-gun media is portraying this as a “gun-control” bill. Let me make it clear: It’s not.

The NICS bill, as written, wouldn’t expand the definition of a prohibited person. It wouldn’t disqualify anyone currently able to legally purchase a firearm. In fact, it would provide an opportunity for people who’ve been disqualified to clear their name. Right now, folks don’t have that ability. Gun owners lose nothing in the bill as it’s currently written, and in fact the bill improves the system for those who’ve been caught in the bureaucratic red tape.

So why is this being called a gun-control bill? In part because one of the bill’s authors is anti-gun Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy. It’s easy to call any piece of legislation from McCarthy anti-gun, even if it’s not. But the biggest reason the media’s calling this “gun-control” is because they’re desperate to report on a gun-control victory in Congress.

Which is basically what I said about it. Sebastian breaks it down further. He says it clarifies the definition of adjudicated mentally defective, however, I have not seen that language.

Also, the bill status is here.

In terms of the political game being played here, the NRA snubbed Carolyn McCarthy according to the WaPo. Then, it seems the Dems snubbed the NRA by allowing her to be a sponsor. Not really relevant, but it’s some inside baseball that may be important later.

In other news, the astroturf organization funded by the Joyce Foundation got their marching orders wrong. Seems they were, at first, unhappy with the bill. Then, the post got pulled. But Google is forever. It’s quite amusing to read. They were full of sound and fury (signifying nothing, of course) and then pulled it. I’m assuming the purchasers of the astroturf said hey, it looks like gun control so shut up. Life must be hard if you’re a paid shill.

For posterity’s sake, some of Gonzo’s real boners are below the fold:

Sounds great, right? We’ll finally close this loophole, and we’ll keep people with mental illness from ever having firearms. Right?

Unfortunately, wrong. As we said back when this first came about, this bill simply requires states to hand in their information on mental illness– this bill makes exactly zero demands of gun dealers, and that’s where the problem lies. The NRA is taking credit for making their gun dealers more responsible here, but there’s no responsibility taking place at all– all the onus is placed on states, not gun dealers.

And it gets even worse. When you sign a deal with the devil, you’re always going to get the losing end of the bargain, and the American people are definitely getting that here.


Right now, if you’re a convicted felon, you’re barred from ever owning a firearm again. That’s a significant and important law– police can use that law to prevent convicted felons from carrying out shootings, because they can arrest the person way before the trigger is ever pulled. But under this agreement, even convicted felons could reverse that law, and be able to get weapons again. If we are closing the mental health loophole (and we’re not with this bill), that’s a gigantic loophole to trade it for.


So if gun buyers aren’t paying the fees, and gun sellers aren’t paying the fees, then who is paying the fees for federal background checks? Oh, that’s right. The American people. Once again, we’re paying for their idiotic choices. If these gun buyers want to endanger this country by owning a firearm, we’ll thank them to do it on their own coin, thanks. There is no reason we as taxpayers should be subsidizing their bad decisions.

What do you mean by “wish list” exactly, Cox? Because we sure wish that mentally ill people in this country were legally unable to get their hands on firearms, and we wish we had a strong gun law that could make sure that happened. Is that the kind of wish you’ll stand against? Are we both wishing for the same thing?

Because as we said before, this proposal means nothing, whether it passes or not. As long as the gun show loophole remains open, we can put whatever background checks in place we want at licensed gun dealers, and all criminals or the mentally ill have to do to avoid them is walk into a gun show and buy a gun without any paperwork at all. Even this bill doesn’t fix that.

If the NRA wants to talk about wish lists, how about a wish that their gun dealers were actually held responsible for the weapons they sell? How about a wish that every single gun sale in this country must require a background check? The NRA certainly won’t support that kind of “wish list,” because both of those wishes, if granted, hurt their gun industry sales. And since that’s the NRA’s priority (not the safety of Americans), we can’t exactly see why Democrats need the NRA’s support anyway. Most Americans wish both of those regulations were in place– we wish our legislators could see that.

24 Responses to “Another NICS in the wall”

  1. Snowflakes in Hell » Clarification on Language Says:

    […] SayUncle says he can’t find where the language of adjudicated mental defective is clarified in….  After reading it again, I think I may have been mistaken.  The following section is what I was reading as clarification: (C) the adjudication, determination, or commitment, respectively, is based solely on a medical finding of disability, without a finding that the person is a danger to himself or to others or that the person lacks the mental capacity to manage his own affairs. […]

  2. Sebastian Says:

    A good summary. I’m not sure about the funding issue though, because this entire bill is a funding bill, so it would seem that they would have to pass another bill that would cut off this funding, which would just put is back to where we are now.

  3. Gringo_Malo Says:

    Section 102(b)(1)(C) of the bill, at the top of page 14, seems to require that arrests be reported to NICS. 18 USC 922(g(1) makes ineligible anyone convicted of, not arrested for, but convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year’s imprisonment. It now seems that persons arrested for a crime will now be denied by NICS, whether convicted or not. Anybody can be arrested for anything.

    The initial section of the bill is mildly amusing. It seems that out of 49 million firearms sales reported to NICS, 916 thousand, or 1.9 per cent, were denied. How many of the denials were legitimate, rather than cases of mistaken identity, is not reported. (Before I obtained my Texas CHL, I was routinely delayed by NICS, purportedly because I have a common name.) How many persons denied by NICS were prosecuted is not reported, but zero is the most likely number. The purpose of the law is merely to harass the law-abiding.

  4. Gringo_Malo Says:

    As I just remarked over on SnowFlakes in Hell, the bill decidedly does not clarify the meaining of “adjudicated mentally defective.” It says that the term will have the “meaning given in regulations implementing section 922(g)(4) of title 18, United States Code, as in effect on the date of the enactment of this Act.” You and I will probably be unable to find those regulations, and neither could the idiots who wrote this bill.

  5. AlanDP Says:

    If we’re going to let the same group who says that a shoestring is a machine gun also say who and who is not mentally unqualified to own a firearm, we are in big trouble.

  6. Standard Mischief Says:

    Pay no attention to the language of the bill behind the curtains. After all the WaPo says:

    To sign on to the deal, the powerful gun lobby won significant concessions from Democratic negotiators in weeks of painstaking talks.

    That means that the NRA really did get “significant concessions” OR that the WaPo is spreading the NRA’s talking points.

    Far from being the standard mischief, the thought that the WaPo is the NRA’s propaganda arm is like snowflakes in hell.

  7. Standard Mischief Says:

    Proposed compromise: After ten years of clean living as a well functioning member of society, felons and other prohibited citizens (except for perhaps murder, rape, kidnapping…) automatically get their rights back. All of them.

    It seems that the WaPo wants violent felons to get their right to vote back*, but they want people who get convicted of assault against a domestic partner (which could be as simple as tossing a glass of water in someone’s face and a call to 911) to lose their rights to effective self-protection forever.

    The Post even gets it right with the minority angle, historically using minor infractions to purge the voter rolls in teh southern states. Why they can’t see the exact same bias with early “gun control” laws is beyond me.

    * And please note that the title of this story is “Why Can’t Ex-Felons Vote?”. Yea, ex-felons. Well ex-felons can vote, except the ranks of ex-felons include Mark Rich and Bill Clinton’s brother. Pardon me.

  8. Standard Mischief Says:

    If we’re going to let the same group who says that a shoestring is a machine gun also say who and who is not mentally unqualified to own a firearm, we are in big trouble.


    Oh and everyone needs to go to therapy, or at least try some kind of legal chemical enhancement to get themselves over life’s little rough spots.

    Oh and we really need to have some sort of state sponsored Hillary-care to take care of everyone. That’s a right. Oh and don’t worry about privacy, we’ll just prosecute the holy hell out of anyone that does anything like that, right Tgirsch?

    Mark Klein’s leak about NSA’s network monitoring hardware used to spy on American citizens. AKA Room 641A (PDF)

    We’re from the government and we’ll never misuse your private medical records.

    Census Bureau data misused to help round up American citizens of Japanese descent

    And remember kids, meth = bad, prescribed Ritalin = good.

  9. Alcibiades Says:

    Eventually, Google’s cache will be changed/deleted, so better save a local copy.

  10. Sebastian Says:

    Section 102(b)(1)(C) of the bill, at the top of page 14, seems to require that arrests be reported to NICS. 18 USC 922(g(1) makes ineligible anyone convicted of, not arrested for, but convicted of a crime punishable by more than a year’s imprisonment. It now seems that persons arrested for a crime will now be denied by NICS, whether convicted or not. Anybody can be arrested for anything.

    Where are you finding the full text of the bill? I haven’t seen it anywhere except an excerpt on Hardy’s site.

  11. Gringo_Malo Says:

    To find the full text of the bill, go to Search for HR 2460. From there you can get to the bill’s text. You can either look at multiple HTML pages, or download the PDF from the GPO’s web site. That’s what I did.

    Most bills find their way to the Thomas site shortly after submission. The problem is to sort the wheat from the chaff. Most bills filed have no chance of passing. Some might be added as riders to massive appropriations bills; members vote on them without reading them. But given a bill number, you can usually find the text.

  12. Sebastian Says:

    Got it. Thanks

  13. Gringo_Malo Says:

    Okay, so I did find the definition of “adjudicated mentally defective” in the regulation here. Assuming that it’s the right one. There are so damned many regulations. It still annoys me to be governed by brain-dead bozos who can’t even identify the regulation to which their silly law refers.

  14. Sebastian Says:

    I see the section you were talking about. Yes, it’s true that it requires the record to be turned over for arrests for felonies, because being charged with a felony is actually disabling. That’s even a question on 4473.

    I don’t like it either, but that’s what the law is currently.

  15. Sebastian Says:

    It really is quite insane. It would have been nice to get a standard written into some legislation, rather than being left up to the whim of the ATF.

  16. Standard Mischief Says:

    It really is quite insane. It would have been nice to get a standard written into some legislation, rather than being left up to the whim of the ATF.

    Another evil black shotgun becomes a Destructive Device.

    Another spring becomes a machine gun.

    Another regulation pops up changing the definition of a de-milled firearm.

    Another random rule on what constitutes armor piercing handgun ammo.

    Meanwhile, back in the Constitution; you know, the Supreme Law of the Land, in Article I, Section 1, (being first after the preamble, so it’s probably pretty important), it says:

    All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

    I don’t see diddly-squat about the power to delegate lawmaking powers to the Executive Branch. Doesn’t that violate separation of powers?

    But the NRA got significant concessions.

    (Hanging together vs. tough love blog post being written right now)

  17. Sebastian Says:

    I think it does violate separation of powers, but we have a long way to go before we convince most Americans to care, or the courts, for that matter.

  18. Gringo_Malo Says:

    Sebastian said: “… because being charged with a felony is actually disabling.”

    Well, that’s not exactly true. I was looking at subsection (g) of 18 USC 922, which lists nine classes of persons forbidden to possess a firearm. I should have looked at subsection (d), which lists nine classes of persons to whom one can’t sell a firearm. The only difference in the two lists is that subsection (d)(1) says, “is under indictment for, or has been convicted in any court of, a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.”

    There’s a big difference between being charged and being indicted. An indictment is issued by a grand jury after a formal legal proceeding. Any cop can arrest anybody on any charge at any time. Sometimes grand juries refuse to indict people who’ve been arrested. An indictment is disqualifying. An arrest, in itself, shouldn’t be. If the ATF regulations disqualify a buyer for an arrest without an indictment, then the ATF is making up its own laws.

  19. Sebastian Says:

    I’m not sure that the definition of indictment is necessarily confined to charges leveled by a grand jury. There are a lot of states that don’t even use grand juries. The ATF has decided to use the point of arrest for a felony as the regulation. I agree it’s probably not a reasonable boundary, even in states that don’t use grand juries, but I’m not sure I’d expect the courts to rule against the ATF determination as to when someone can be considered “indicted” with a felony.

  20. Alphecca » The NICS Bill Says:

    […] Say Uncle has a nice round up on it. […]

  21. Gringo_Malo Says:

    18 USC 921 subsection (a)(14) says:

    “The term “indictment” includes an indictment or information in any court under which a crime punishable by imprisonment for a term exceeding one year may be prosecuted.”

    I’ve never heard of an indictment coming from anybody but a grand jury. My state, Texas, uses both indictment and information:

    “An ‘indictment’ is the written statement of a grand jury accusing a person therein named of some act or omission which, by law, is declared to be an

    “An ‘information’ is a written statement filed and presented in behalf
    of the State by the district or county attorney, charging the
    defendant with an offense which may by law be so prosecuted.”

    Again, an information is a bit more formal than an arrest. An information is written by a district attorney who intends to prosecute a person for some crime. A cop can arrest you and charge you with whatever he pleases just because he doesn’t like your face. NICS denials based on a mere arrest go beyond the federal law. If federal agencies can make up their own laws, shouldn’t we stop paying those bozos in Congress?

  22. Sebastian Says:

    That’s interesting. I wish I had more of a legal background to comment on whether you could challenge that ATF reg if it was ever applied to you. I wonder if anyone has tried?

  23. Gringo_Malo Says:

    This bill has only been passed by the House, so far. It might be possible to get the NRA to withdraw support. It might even be possible to get our Senators to defeat it, or at least limit the information transmitted to the NICS database to records of indictment or information.

  24. SayUncle » NICS improvement bill Says:

    […] Buckeye Firearms has a fact sheet about the bill. Like I said before, the bill largely serves as a means to pay for things that are already law. […]