The North Carolina Senate amended Senate Bill 2081, the “NICS Reporting/Restoration Bill,” on Thursday, July 10.
This legislation makes critical changes to North Carolina law in order to get the Tar Heel State in compliance with the federal “NICS Improvement Amendments Act,” which was signed into law in January of this year. This federal law provides financial incentives to states to make records of prohibited individuals available for use in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
As it relates to S2081 in North Carolina, “The NICS Improvement Amendments Act” requires states to establish a system that would allow individuals who have been involuntarily committed, by a court, to a mental health treatment program to have their commitment reported to NICS. Individuals with such commitments are already prohibited under federal law from purchasing or possessing a firearm, but not all applicable commitments are currently reported to NICS.
The amendments passed on Thursday, which were introduced by pro-gun State Senator Phil Berger (R-26), made several improvements to the legislation. First, the legislation now states that involuntary commitments for mental health treatment must have a finding that the person committed poses a danger to him or herself or others. Second, the legislation lowers the standard in the process to have involuntary commitment records removed from NICS from establishing “clear and convincing evidence” to establishing “a preponderance of the evidence.” Finally, the legislation now presumes the hearing for removal from NICS will not be open to the public, but allows a judge to open it to the public if there is a finding that “the public interest would be better served by conducting the hearing in public.” Originally, the legislation presumed the hearing would be open to the public, but allowed the petitioner to request it be closed.
SB 2081 now moves to the House for consideration. Please contact your State Representative and respectfully urge him or her to support the Senate language as passed. Contact information can be found by clicking here.