It’s been a busy year for new gun related legislation! However, it isn’t ALL bad news. One of the most recent entries into our Legislation to Watch series is S4040 - Gun Owner Privacy Act. The stated purpose of Senate Bill 4040 is to “amend chapter 44 of title 18, United States Code, to protect the rights of citizens under the Second Amendment to the Constitution of the United States”.
Senate Bill 4040 was introduced June 23, 2020. Senator Kelly Loeffler of Georgia is the bill’s sponsor. As of this writing there are no cosponsors. The bill has been referred to the Senate Judiciary committee for initial consideration.
What the Legislation Does
This is another relatively short and to the point bill. It seeks to modify Section 922(t) of title 18, United States Code. According to the text of the bill it is amended by adding at the end the following:
“(7) (A) None of the funds appropriated pursuant to any provision of law may be used for—
“(i) any system to implement this subsection that does not require and result in the immediate destruction of all information, in any form whatsoever, submitted by or on behalf of any person who has been determined not to be prohibited from owning a firearm; or
“(ii) the implementation or collection of any tax or fee by any officer, agent, or employee of the United States, or by any State or local officer or agent acting on behalf of the United States, in connection with the implementation of this subsection.
“(B) Any person aggrieved by a violation of this paragraph may bring an action in the district court of the United States for the district in which the person resides.
“(C) Any person who is successful with respect to an action brought under subparagraph (B) shall receive damages, punitive damages, and such other remedies as the court may determine to be appropriate, including a reasonable attorney's fee.”.
Why You Should Care About S4040
So, what do all those words in S4040 boil down to? A few simple, but important changes. If signed into law this bill would prohibit any federal funds being spent on background systems unless they destroy the records as soon as the transition is complete. The only exception would be if something about the transition violated the law.
Currently records are retained for 24 hours if approved, 90 days if placed on hold, and indefinitely if denied. The approved records are destroyed after 24 hours. However, the date and number of transactions are stored for 90 days. This bill would greatly reduce the ability of NICS records to be used to develop any sort of registry.
The second big thing it does is prohibits any sort of fee being charged to use NICS. According to the ATF website “The FBI does not charge a fee for conducting NICS checks. However, states that act as points of contact for NICS checks may charge a fee consistent with state law”. Our understanding is this would do away with any fee imposed at the state level and prevent any future federal level fee being imposed.