Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $1,494,330)
The NICS Improvement Amendments Act of 2007, Pub. L. 110-180 ("NICS Improvement Act"), was signed into law by the President on January 8, 2008. The NICS Improvement Act amends the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 ("the Brady Act") (Pub. L. 103-159), under which the Attorney General established the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The Brady Act requires Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to contact the NICS before transferring a firearm to an unlicensed person for information on whether the proposed transferee is prohibited from receiving or possessing a firearm under state or federal law. The NICS Improvement Act authorizes grants to be made in a manner consistent with the National Criminal History Improvement Program (NCHIP).
Under this award, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the state's NARIP and NCHIP administering agency, serves as the point-of-contact to the Federal Bureau of Investigation National Instant Criminal Background Check System (FBI NICS). SLED has been contributing information to the NICS Index since its inception in 1998 as background checks are performed for Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) eligibility. SLED developed the interface between the State and NICS in 2004 and began entering to the NICS Index at that time. If prohibiting information is uncovered, criminal history information is updated and entries are made into the NICS Index. Due to the recent enactment of the Mental Health Adjudication and Commitment Reporting law, SLED assumed statutory responsibility for entering mental health adjudication records into the NICS Index. Further, state courts assumed a statutory requirement to submit mental health adjudication court orders to SLED within five days of the order being made and historical records for the previous 10 years (or as far back as records were maintained). Prior to assuming these responsibilities, SLED worked collaboratively with the South Carolina Judicial Department, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and the Probate Court Association to develop estimates of how many records existed and would require entry each year. Initial estimates showed SLED would be required to enter between 14,000 and 20,000 records into the NICS Index annually; however the largest eight of South Carolina's 46 counties did not participate in the survey which generated the estimates so the total is likely much higher. In FY 2013, SLED received a one-time federal grant through the Improving the Completeness of Firearm Background Checks through Enhanced State Data Sharing program to create the SLED NICS Unit and developed an electronic document management system (EDMS). These funds have been successfully utilized to implement processes and dedicate personnel solely to entering mental health records from state courts into the NICS Index. As of April 2014, SLED made approximately 35,000 entries into the NICS Index, and anticipates this is only a small percentage of the total number of records (both current and historical) to be entered because eight of the largest South Carolina counties have not yet submitted their records for entry. SLED will use NARIP funds to continue to support personnel assigned to the SLED NICS Unit and to maintain the EDMS in order to ensure that all mental health adjudication orders are entered into the NICS Index in the time specified by the S.C. Code of Laws. Additionally, due to the anticipated increase in network traffic, this project will replace firewalls responsible for the secure transmission of NICS information. (CA/NCF)