Sen. Cornyn Finds 'Areas of Consensus' on Improving Background Check System

By Susan Jones | November 8, 2017 | 5:19 AM EST

Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) (Photo: Screen capture/YouTube)

( - Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said he plans to introduce legislation to close the "gaps" in the National Instant Check System (NICS).

"Amid the controversies that surround the Second Amendment to the Constitution, there are areas of consensus, and that has to do with the background check system, keeping guns out of the hands of people with mental illness, convicted felons, people who commit domestic violence," Cornyn told a news conference on Tuesday.

But, tragically, we saw the system fail, and 26 people are now dead, 20 more wounded, as a result of the tragedy that occurred in Texas on this last Sunday.

Cornyn said he plans to work with colleagues and the Trump administration on a bill that will require the federal government, including the Defense Department and all the military branches, to report disqualifying information to the background check databases.

Not only was the Texas gunman a domestic abuser, but reports now say he also escaped from a mental institution in 2012, the same year he was court-martialed for threatening his wife and cracking his young stepson's skull. Both the domestic abuse and his mental state should have prohibited him from buying guns, but the Air Force never entered those facts into the background check databases.

Cornyn said his bill will include "an additional set of carrots and sticks" to "incentivize the states" to send felony convictions and mental/domestic abuse adjudications to background check databases.

"Under the Constitution, there's nothing we can do to mandate that the states cooperate," Cornyn said. "But that's why I believe, through some collection of sticks and carrots, we might be able to incentivize the states to cooperate more.

"Remember, this was a problem a few years ago, when the Virginia Tech shooter, who had previously been adjudicated mentally ill -- that information had not been uploaded. So there are enormous problems with the background check system.

"As I said, this is one of those areas of consensus in a very contentious -- on a very contentious topic. So, at the very least, my hope is that we can do what we can to close those gaps and to fix it so people like this shooter don't fall through the gaps," Cornyn added.

Cornyn said domestic violence crimes "are very much underreported by the states and by the federal government. The federal government does not appear to report any domestic violence," he added.

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