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Sens. Cruz, Grassley, Tillis Introduce Bill to Improve Background Checks and Firearm Safety; Safeguard Second Amendment

May 21, 2021

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) today introduced legislation to protect Second Amendment rights, improve firearm safety, and prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. The Protecting Communities and Preserving the Second Amendment Act of 2021 aims to prevent gun violence by ensuring that relevant agencies and institutions accurately submit records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

Upon introduction, Sen. Cruz, said:

"When Sen. Grassley and I introduced this bill nine years ago, it received the most bipartisan support of any comprehensive gun legislation. Unfortunately, Senate Democrats recklessly blocked it. Our bill seeks to increase support for school safety funding, ensure agencies accurately submit records to the NICS, and develop a federal task force to prosecute criminals who illegally purchase a firearm, rather than target law-abiding citizens - as the Biden administration has continually signaled they intend to do. I am honored to continue the fight to keep guns out of the hands of violent felons, fugitives, and those with severe mental health issues that endanger themselves and those around them. I once again urge my Senate colleagues on both sides of the aisle to come together with us to prevent future tragedies."

Sen. Grassley said:

"The failure to fully employ the national background checks system has come at the cost of lives. Over the last several years, a number of mass shootings and deaths could have been prevented had our current background check systems worked properly. Our bill will improve that system to ensure the NICS system receives the information it needs to keep firearms out of the hands of people who pose a danger to themselves or others. It does that without burdening the Second Amendment rights of Americans. When we first introduced this legislation in 2013, after the tragedy at Sandy Hook, it received a bipartisan majority vote in the Senate. There's no reason that can't happen again."

Sen. Tillis added:

"The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is a crucial tool to ensure guns don't fall into the wrong hands. The legislation will strengthen our background check system while protecting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American citizens."

BACKGROUND

The bill was first introduced as the "Grassley-Cruz" amendment in 2013, when the amendment received a positive vote of 52-48 in the Senate but could not overcome a Democratic filibuster, and Republicans were in the minority. The legislation takes important, concrete steps to improve NICS, address mental health concerns relating to the purchase of firearms and bolster alerts to law enforcement. It will commission a study on the causes of mass shootings from the National Institute of Justice and National Academy of Sciences.

Read the full text of their bill here. Read a one-page digest here.

Additionally, this legislation will:

  • Ensure that relevant mental health records are submitted by states to NICS;
  • Responsibly addresses gun violence by criminalizing straw purchasing of firearms and gun trafficking;
  • Improve Second Amendment protections for veterans;
  • Require the Justice Department to explain to Congress why it has or has not been prosecuting gun cases;
  • Place limitations on Fast & Furious-type operations by the Justice Department;
  • Authorize FFL's to utilize the NICS database to for voluntary background checks of employees.


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