Bill would alert immigration when non-citizen tries to buy guns


Nearly 15 million people living in or entering the country illegally are on an FBI list prohibiting purchase of firearms.

However, the National Instant Criminal Background Check system isn’t required to let immigration authorities know if one of those 14.8 million is an applicant and in America. Legislation is proposed to change it.

“It is already against the law for an illegal immigrant to purchase a firearm, and this legislation would notify the appropriate authorities when an illegal immigrant tries to break the law,” said U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who co-sponsored the bill.

Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton authored the legislation. He and Tillis are joined by Republican Sens. John Boozman of Arkansas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming introducing the Illegal Alien NICS Alert Act.

“Those who come into America illegally should be detained and deported,” Cotton said in a release. “They certainly shouldn’t be able to purchase a firearm. Our bill is necessary to ensure the proper authorities are notified when an illegal immigrant attempts to buy a gun.”

As proposed, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System would have to notify U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, also known as ICE, and relevant local law enforcement when people living in the country illegally try to purchase a gun.

Since Nov. 30, 1998, the background check system has denied 49,411 attempted firearms purchases by people in the country illegally, a release from Tillis says.

By law, the federal firearms licensee selling a person a firearm at a store contacts the background check system. The prospective purchaser is verified or denied. The FBI has a record of prohibited persons, with 14.8 million people in the country illegally among them, but is not required to notify immigration authorities or law enforcement.

Lummis said she has “no confidence in this administration’s willingness or ability to prevent illegal aliens from unlawfully entering our country, let alone in preventing them from illegally obtaining a firearm.”