Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) issued a statement following the Senate’s vote on a Congressional Review Act resolution related to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System:
“Today, I voted against a Congressional Review Act resolution to repeal regulations to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Both the rule and the procedure by which Republicans sought to reverse it were flawed, but overall, the need to protect our communities and to strengthen a weak background check system were sufficient to make me oppose Republican efforts to punch further holes in our gun safety laws and background check system.
The rule in question required the Social Security Administration (SSA) to forward the records of those with serious mental disabilities to the firearm background check system. Federal law prohibits certain groups of individuals from acquiring firearms. NICS is the mechanism by which this prohibition is enforced: individuals who are prohibited by federal law from acquiring a firearm whose records appear in the NICS will not be able to pass the necessary background check to purchase one from a licensed dealer. Unfortunately, the rule didn’t get this right. It failed to provide an adequate system of appeals for those unfairly caught in the system and was not carefully crafted to avoid stigmatizing individuals with mental disabilities.
As a vocal advocate for the rights of those with disabilities, from being the sponsor of the ABLE Act to championing equal access to public services, combatting discriminatory messages that individuals with disabilities are dangerous or to be feared is one of my top priorities. I will keep fighting for equal rights for individuals with disabilities. In this case though I determined that using this short-cut procedural tool was not the right step to take. Because of gaping loopholes in current gun safety laws that allow too many gun sales to take place without any sort of background check, the need to bolster the NICS is urgent and essential. Furthermore, using the Congressional Review Act in this case would prevent any similar regulation on this issue in the future, seriously undermining the background check system and leading us deeper into the crisis of gun violence we face today. For this reason, I voted against the resolution today.”