Hold Your Fire
Massachusetts has developed an advanced system for checking the background information of prospective gun buyers. Called MIRCS (Massachusetts Instant Record Check System), the new tool merges biometrics (fingerprint scanning) with the state’s crime database.
People interested in purchasing a gun must pass a background check when they apply for a gun license as well as when they attempt to purchase a firearm.
“The Web-based system has expedited and standardized the process for running background checks,” explains Barry LaCroix, executive director of the Massachusetts Criminal History Systems Board (CHSB).
A company called xFact in Massachusetts designed and constructed the front-end application; the overall expense for MIRCS was about $4.6 million. The money was used for hardware and application design and development, according to CHSB’ deputy director Curtis Wood; it also funded a workstation, printer, fingerprint reader, and secure router for all local police departments statewide.
To date, 120 police departments out of 351 municipalities use the system as well as three of 375 gun dealers in the state. Applicants need to come into a local police department to pay a license fee, have their picture taken, and fingerprints scanned.
Police then fill out and submit an online form to process a background check, with the overall procedure taking 15 minutes to 20 minutes. Daily updates from trial courts ensure that information in MIRCS is up-to-date, says LaCroix.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from Government Technology (12/04) Vol. 17, No. 12, P. 90; Newcombe, Tod.