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01Aug2016

Bulletin highlights states’ progress in reporting protection orders for firearm-related background checks

By SEARCH

protection-orderSEARCH and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) collaborated on a research bulletin that examines the progress states have made to report protection orders for firearm-related background checks.

The bulletin—recently published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics U.S. Department of Justice—is the second in a series that provides state and federal policymakers tangible evidence of how investments in improving our country’s criminal justice infrastructure have resulted in increasing the number of records available for both firearms background checks and criminal justice purposes. 

They also serve as a guide to promising practices for making records available through the Interstate Identification Index (III), National Crime Information Center (NCIC), and National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Index for states that seek strategies to improve their submission to state and federal databases.

The “Protection Order Submissions” bulletin shows that at the end of 2014, state repositories held more than 2.1 million domestic violence protection orders, while federal databases held more than 1.4 million such orders. For firearm-related background checks, federal law contains provisions in which a protection order serves as a bar to receiving a firearm. Some states have enacted laws that expand the parameters of when these protection orders serve as state disqualifiers for receiving a firearm.  The nature of protection orders and federal requirements can make it challenging for states to make these records available at the national level.

The bulletin—

  • lists the databases where such protection orders may be stored
  • describes challenges states have in placing protection orders in the NCIC Protection Order File
  • addresses the availability of protection order records,
  • details recent improvements in including protection orders in NCIC and the NICS Index, and
  • offers success stories from states that have worked to improve protection order reporting.

Future research bulletins will address the reporting of misdemeanor crimes of domestic violence and warrants to the III, NCIC, and NICS Index; reporting substance abusers to the NICS Index; promising practices for disposition reporting, and more. An SEARCH/NCSC bulletin published earlier this year addressed states’ progress in providing firearm-prohibiting mental health data to the NICS Index.

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