The Department of Justice acted today on one of the gun control proposals President Obama announced in January, announcing $20 million in grants as an incentive for states to make criminal and mental health records available to the national background check system.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System provides information to federally licensed gun retailers on criminal history records and anyone prohibited from owning a gun for mental health reasons.
The $20 million will go toward three grants to shore up state, territory and tribal efforts to reduce information gaps, update electronic systems and make records instantly available to NICS.
“As part of President Obama’s comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence, the Administration is committed to enhancing and strengthening the national criminal record system in support of stronger firearm background checks,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement today.
The administration is also proposing another $50 million for NICS in fiscal year 2014.The money will come from several DOJ programs, as well as a one-time competitive grant program designed as an incentive for states wanting to improve their data-sharing systems and fill information gaps. As part of his gun control proposals, President Obama in January also issued a presidential memorandum requiring federal agencies to identify criminal history and mental health records, make them available to the system, and regularly report that their records are complete and up-to-date. The administration has been aggressively pushing its gun control proposals, creating a gun violence task force led by Vice President Joe Biden. Other recommendations are much more controversial, such as banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.