Back in May of this year, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy was interviewed for a segment on enforcing the gun laws in existence and on Sunday, Oct. 13, Steve Kroft's report for 60 Minutes (including McCarthy's interview) was broadcast.
McCarthy has been working to pass Our Lady of Peace Act (H.R. 4757), a bill to make the Instant Check system work better by providing states an incentive to automate and share disqualifying records with the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database. Although New York leads most states in automating and sharing their criminal history records, the senseless deaths of Reverend Lawrence Penzes and Eileen Tosner at Our Lady of Peace Church in Lynbrook back in March could have been prevented if the assailant's disqualifying records were shared with the federal NICS system at the time he purchased a rifle.
Under the 1968 Gun Control Act, individuals are prohibited from possessing a firearm if he or she is under indictment or has been convicted of a crime punishable by more than one year; is a fugitive from justice; is an unlawful user or an addict of any controlled substance; has been adjudicated as a mental defective or has been committed to any mental institution; is subject to a court order restraining them from domestic violence; has been convicted of a domestic violence misdemeanor; has been dishonorably discharged from the military; is an illegal alien; or was renounced US citizenship.
The Our Lady of Peace Act enforces this law by providing states an incentive to automate and share these disqualifying records with the FBI's NICS database.
Transmittal of Federal Records to NICS
All federal agencies shall make available all relevant records relating to persons disqualified from acquiring a firearm under federal law to the attorney general for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. For example, the commissioner of the Immigration and Naturalization Service shall make available all relevant records of persons disqualified from acquiring a firearm under federal law, including illegal aliens, visitors to the United States on student visas and visitors on tourist visas.
Transmittal of State Records to the NICS
Each state shall make available information relating to persons disqualified from acquiring a firearm under federal and applicable state law to the attorney general for inclusion in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
Access to information
Any information provided to the attorney general under this section may only be accessed by personnel legally entitled to access NICS for the purposes of conducting a background check (i.e. mental health records, domestic violence misdemeanors, court-appointed restraining orders, etc.).
The attorney general shall work with federal, state and local law enforcement and the mental health community to establish protocols for protecting the privacy of information sharing.
Grants to States
The attorney general shall award a grant to each state to offset the initial costs directly associated with complying with this section.
Authorization of Appropriations
For fiscal years 2004, 2005, 2006, $250,000,000.
Incentive for State Participation
Waive the 10 percent state matching requirement for NCHIP grants for a state that automates and shares at least 95 percent of all disqualifying records. The waiver period shall not exceed five years.
Grants to State Courts for the Improvement in Automation and Transmittal of Disposition Records
Establishes a grant program for state courts to assess and improve handling of proceedings related to criminal history dispositions and temporary restraining orders, as they relate to disqualification from firearms ownership under state and federal laws.
In the first fiscal year after the enactment of this act, the attorney general shall make grants to the Chief Judicial Officer of each state for the purpose of conducting assessments of state courts and automating and transmitting court arrest and conviction disposition records as they relate to disqualification from firearms ownership under state and federal laws.
In subsequent fiscal years, the attorney general shall make grants to the Chief Judicial Officer of each state for the purpose of implementing systems and procedures for the automation and transmittal of court arrest and conviction disposition records as they relate to disqualification from firearms ownership under state and federal laws.
Authorization of Appropriations
For fiscal years 2004, 2005, 2006, $125,000,000.