This is the latest in a Fox News series examining the controversy over gun violence and gun control.
It is the first line of defense against crime guns: the background check.
Representing one of the few limits on Americans’ Second Amendment rights, the system has been in place since 1998 and is used to screen millions of gun buyers every year. The Senate Judiciary Committee will examine those rules Wednesday when it begins to hash out new gun control legislation.
But while polls show more than 90 percent of Americans support a universal check on all gun sales, few know what that means, how it works or if such checks actually reduce crime.
Though 14 years old, and an invaluable resource used by every state to screen upwards of 10 million gun buyers annually, the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (or NICS) remains a grossly incomplete patchwork of records. According to federal audits, the NICS is lacking millions of records that would prevent guns from getting into the wrong hands.
“I don’t think anyone who is rational has a problem with the NICS check,” said Arizona lawyer and gun-rights expert Tim Forshey. “But is there room for improvement? Absolutely.”
The problems with the current background-check system will be a challenge to lawmakers as they try to overhaul how gun buyers are screened.
The idea behind the current system is simple enough. “It’s a very easy form with some very specific instructions,” said Aaron Jeffrey, a salesman at Turner’s Outdoorsman, one of California’s largest gun outfitters. “This is to make sure that you don’t have anything prohibiting in your past…