Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $233,580)
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).
The Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), the state's NCHIP administering agency, currently has in excess of 6.3 million criminal history records containing over 25 million arrest entries. Florida's Computerized Criminal History (CCH) file and Biometric Identification System (BIS) are designed to electronically accept arrest events from booking agencies immediately after the fingerprints are taken. Some of Florida's older arrest events exist at the county level and at the FBI but are not included in CCH file. The availability of complete and accurate criminal history records is critical for screening job applicants, issuing firearm approvals, and maintaining health and fluidity of criminal justice systems. Under this award, FDLE will use funds to continue to support the state's efforts to improve the data maintained in the CCH file. FDLE will use NCHIP funds to hire temporary staff to identify, retrieve, and enter criminal processes starting with an arrest into the criminal history database and to make corrections to the arrest records on file. As required, staff will also manually add felonies and misdemeanors to files so the arrests become immediately available for firearm purchase, concealed weapon licensing determinations, and for decisions on employment eligibility in fields. Funds will also be used to support efforts to improve the reporting and maintenance of prohibiting mental health records. Each Clerk of the Circuit Court in Florida maintains electronic record keeping systems as mandated by the state. These systems are housed and maintained locally in each county. Each of these 67 separate databases may contain mental health and substance abuse court orders which would disqualify the subject of the order from eligibility to purchase a firearm or receive a concealed weapon permit or firearm license. In 2007, Florida Statute 790.065 was amended and required FDLE to create and maintain a statewide repository (MECOM) for mental health and substance abuse data for the purpose of sharing that data with the FBI's NICS Index. The statute requires the data to be submitted electronically to the Department. Since there is no interface between the 67 clerks' offices electronic record keeping system and MECOM, data must be entered twice which is time intensive and increases the risk for error or omission of data. Specifically, funds will support efforts to develop the necessary infrastructure to enable the clerks' offices to connect directly to the MECOM database via the state's Comprehensive Case Information System. Records will be entered into MECOM "real time" as the Clerks enter the orders into individual case management systems. As a result, the duplication process will be eliminated and the timeliness and quality of disqualifying mental health records available to NICS for firearm background check purposes will be improved. (CA/NCF)