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SEARCH Organizes November 14 Capitol Hill Briefing on NICS

SEARCH organized a Capitol Hill briefing this week to provide an overview of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).

The November 14 event featured experts from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS), National Center for State Courts (NCSC), and SEARCH, who briefed dozens of congressional, agency, and association staff.

SEARCH leaders participated on the panel that provided an informational briefing on the NICS. From left: Vice Chair Julie Butler (Nevada) and Chair Leslie Moore (Kansas).

Panelists outlined how the firearms eligibility process works by providing an overview of NICS — including the databases involved, where the information comes from, and where it is stored.  They also explored the critical role of the local and state agencies in contributing data, and that of the states and the FBI in the firearms eligibility decision-making process.

In addition, panelists provided details on current funding programs that support the NICS, as well as challenges, obstacles, and successful information sharing strategies for making records available for firearms eligibility decisions.

Panelists were:

  • David Roberts, Executive Director, SEARCH
  • Leslie Moore, Director, Information Services Division, Kansas Bureau of Investigation; SEARCH Chair
  • Julie Butler, Administrator, Records, Communications and Compliance Division, Nevada Department of Public Safety; SEARCH Vice Chair
  • Robin Stark-Nutter,NICS Section Chief, FBI NICS
  • Jill Montgomery, NICS Liaison Specialist, FBI NICS
  • Eric Epstein, Senior Policy Counsel, Office of Chief Counsel, ATF
  • Kevin O’Keefe, Chief, Operational Intelligence Division, ATF
  • Mike Buenger, Vice President of Operations, NCSC
  • Devon Adams, Chief, Criminal Justice Data Improvement Program, BJS

This briefing provided an opportunity to educate Congressional, agency, and association staff on NICS.  SEARCH will continue these education and outreach efforts as Congressional and stakeholder staff draft and review proposals related to background checks for firearms screening measures.

SEARCH Executive Director David Roberts (standing) provided opening remarks and introduced the panel. From left: Robin Stark-Nutter (FBI), Jill Montgomery (FBI), Eric Epstein (ATF), Kevin O’Keefe (ATF), Julie Butler (SEARCH), Leslie Moore (SEARCH), Mike Buenger (NCSC), and Devon Adams (BJS).

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Karen Lissy

Ms. Karen Lissy is a Justice Information Services Specialist for the Law and Policy Program of SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. In this position, she provides assistance to state and local justice and public safety agencies to collect, curate, and use National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) data and computerized criminal history record (CCH/CHRI) information for policy analysis and development.

She also guides justice and related organizations in how to craft and implement laws, policies, practices, and technology applications to effectively collect and use CCH and related justice/public safety data; address legal, policy, and regulatory issues associated with CCH data; better manage and operate criminal justice information and identification systems; and develop security and privacy policies that protect justice information sharing systems.

Ms. Lissy has nearly two decades of research and data analysis experience, having led projects and tasks in support of two agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (the Bureau of Justice Statistics and National Institute of Justice), as well as the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, and multiple foundations, including Ford, Annie E. Casey, and Hewlett. Prior to joining SEARCH in October 2020, Ms. Lissy served as a Social Science Researcher at RTI International, as a regional Crime Analyst for the Redmond (WA) Police Department, and as Director of a research program with the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis. Beginning in 2012, Ms. Lissy’s work has focused on improving data in law enforcement to answer policy questions and improve community/police relations.

Ms. Lissy earned a Bachelor’s degree in Public Policy from Duke University, and a Master’s in Public Health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Michael Mackay

Mr. Michael Mackay is an Information Sharing Developer for SEARCH, The National Consortium for Justice Information and Statistics. As part of the Software and Data Engineering Program (SDEP) team, he plans, develops, implements, and deploys information sharing systems on behalf of SEARCH clients in local, state, tribal, and Federal government settings. He also provides programming, configuration, and testing assistance, and consults on implementation architecture and design with clients. 

Mr. Mackay supports justice, public safety, and homeland security information sharing nationwide through SDEP services that include software architecture and systems design, application development, deployment and support, data management services, and direct technical assistance and training. These services offer capabilities that include federated query, authentication access/control, subscription/notification, process/workflow automation, data analysis, and more. 

Prior to joining SEARCH in 2021, Mr. Mackay worked as a Software Engineering Intern for TDM Business Toole Suite, where he provided software development support using Java frameworks, implemented relational database models using MySQL, and designed GUI components using NetBeans. 

Mr. Mackay will work in an Agile development environment, a methodology that SEARCH embraces that focuses on incremental development and delivery, collaboration in a team approach, and rapid and flexible response to change throughout the development cycle. 

Mr. Mackay earned a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and Statistics from Stony Brook University, New York.