On Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announced a number of new steps that will be taken to improve the efficiency of the National Instant Check System (NICS). Designed under the guidance of the Clinton-Gore Administration, the system contains serious flaws. Ashcroft’s first step was to instruct the FBI and the Immigration and Naturalization Services (INS) to use immigration records to check if a potential firearm purchaser is in the country illegally, and thus prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.
The second step involved improving the efficiency of NICS to increase the percentage of immediate and final responses—either "proceed" or "deny"—on record checks, which would help to greatly diminish the number of "delay" responses that plague the system and keep law-abiding gun purchasers from taking possession of firearms.
The third step AG Ashcroft took was to promote state initiatives to update and automate their criminal history files, and he committed $141 million over the next three years to this effort.
While taking questions from the media, Ashcroft also reiterated his intent to uphold federal laws that forbid using records on transfers that are not denied through NICS for anything other than auditing the system.
In addition to announcing these steps to improve the operation of NICS, AG Ashcroft also announced the Justice Department would undertake a new initiative called Project Sentry, which is designed to ensure America’s children are safe from violent crime involving firearms while attending school.
NRA applauds AG Ashcroft for working to correct the flaws with NICS, and for reaffirming his commitment to ensuring the NICS system is not abused by those who would like to see it turned into a mechanism to implement an illegal registration scheme.