News Roundup: John Cornyn Says President Trump Supports His Firearms Background Check Bill

Our daily look at Texas headlines.

By Becky FogelFebruary 20, 2018 2:52 pm

The Standard’s news roundup gives you a quick hit of interesting, sometimes irreverent, and breaking news stories from all over the state.

President Donald Trump has told U.S. Senator John Cornyn that he supports the Texas senior senator’s efforts to address the nation’s background check system for purchasing firearms. An aide in Senator Cornyn’s Office confirmed that the senator and the president talked about this legislation and “it’s clear the president is interested in getting something done.”

Cornyn first proposed changes to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) after the mass shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas last November. He described the need for the Fix NICS Act during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in December.

“Shortly after the shooting we learned that – in Sutherland Springs – we learned that the shooter had a significant criminal history of domestic violence and mental illness that should have prevented him from purchasing firearms,” said Cornyn. “He simply lied when he purchased these firearms from a federally-licensed firearms dealer but because the information had not been uploaded by the Airforce into the NICS background system it simply wasn’t available to prevent him from purchasing these guns.”

This bill has already passed the U.S. House of Representatives and is endorsed by a number of organizations including, the National Rifle Association and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. A Washington Post analysis from 2014 looked at the issues facing the NICS, including the fact that states cannot be legally required to submit mental health records to the system.

Cornyn’s office provided this breakdown of what the Fix NICS Act would do:

– Requires federal agencies and states to produce NICS implementation plans focused on uploading all information to the background check system showing that a person is prohibited from purchasing or possessing firearms under current law—including measures to verify the accuracy of records.

– Holds federal agencies accountable if they fail to upload relevant records to the background check system through public reporting and prohibiting bonus pay for political appointees.

– Rewards states who comply with their NICS implementation plans through federal grant preferences and incentives, while increasing accountability through public reporting for those who do not comply with their plans.

– Reauthorizes and improves important law enforcement programs to help state governments share relevant criminal record information with NICS.

– Creates a Domestic Abuse and Violence Prevention Initiative to ensure that states have adequate resources and incentives to share all relevant information with NICS showing that a felon or domestic abuser is excluded from purchasing firearms under current law.

– Provides important technical assistance to federal agencies and states who are working to comply with NICS record-sharing requirements.

Houston is losing bank branches. Banks nationwide have been closing more branches than they’re opening.

Houston Public Media’s Florian Martin took a look at this trend.

In 2017, Houston had 108 fewer bank branches than in 2010 – that’s about a seven percent decrease. It’s part of a nationwide trend since the Great Recession.

Walter Bialas, with commercial real estate firm JLL, which published the report, says for banks, it’s no longer about having the most branches.

“Customers pretty much across the country are mandating that it’s not just about the branch on the corner, it’s about being able to do business with their bank anytime, anywhere for pretty much anything.”

Research by the New York Fed and others shows so-called “bank deserts” disproportionately affect minority and low-income communities. Bialas anticipates the trend of bank closings to continue as more transactions are being done online.”

A famous Texan is lending his voice to new TV and radio commercials for Tennessee-based fast food chain, Carl’s Jr. As the Austin American-Statesman first reported while Matthew McConaughey is doing voice work for the brand but he’s not an official spokesperson. So, while we get to see the Oscar-winning actor stump for Wild Turkey bourbon or stare down a bull named Cyrus in a Lincoln commercial, we won’t see him sink his teeth into a Carl’s Jr. creation. And that’s alright, alright, alright.