Republican and Democratic senators have joined forces on legislation to strengthen the FBI database of prohibited gun buyers after the Air Force failed to report the criminal history of the gunman who slaughtered more than two dozen people at a Texas church. Congress has taken no steps on guns in the weeks after deadly shootings in Las Vegas and Sutherland Springs, Texas. The bill, which has the backing of the Senate's No. 2 Republican, John Cornyn of Texas, would ensure that federal agencies, such as the Defense Department, and states accurately report relevant criminal information to the FBI. The bill would penalize federal agencies that fail to properly report required records by prohibiting political appointees from receiving any bonus pay, reports the AP.
It would also reward states that comply by providing them with federal grant preferences and seeks to improve accountability by publicly reporting which agencies and states fail to provide the required records. Cornyn said agencies and state governments have for years failed to forward legally required records without consequences. Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, a fierce proponent of gun restrictions, said the bill "represents the strongest update to the background checks system in a decade, and provides the foundation for more compromise in the future." The measure's prospects in the Senate are unclear despite Cornyn's backing, and it faces an uncertain future in the GOP-run House. (Read more gun control stories.)