National Rifle Association Executive Vice President and CEO Wayne LaPierre offered a litany of excuses for his organization’s opposition to universal background checks on gun sales and purchases this morning, telling Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace that the American Medical Association and other organizations were to blame for thwarting an expanded background check system. He also warned that universal checks could lead to a national registry:
LAPIERRE: I think what they’ll do is they’ll turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry of law-abiding people, and law-abiding people don’t want that.
WALLACE: Forgive me sir, but you take something that is here, and you take it all the way over there. There is nothing anyone in the administration has said that indicates they’re going to have a universal registry.
LAPIERRE: And Obamacare wasn’t a tax until they needed it to be a tax. I just don’t think you can trust these people.
The NRA has consistently used this as an excuse to oppose expanded background checks, even though federal law prohibits agencies from retaining information on people who pass background checks, making a national gun registry virtually impossible.
The gun lobby backed expanded background checks following the 1999 Columbine High School shooting, but LaPierre reiterated during a hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this week that the organization no longer supports those checks and told Wallace that the mental health community is also against them. “I have finally become convinced, after fighting to get the mental records computerized for 20 years and watching the mental health lobby, the HIPAA laws, and the AMA oppose it, I don’t think it’s going to happen,” he said. “The mental health lobby won’t let it happen.”
In addition to computerizing mental health records, LaPierre told Wallace that he would “change civil commitment laws” and “interdict” more mental health patients, an approach that would blatantly ignore concerns about patient privacy and the stigmatization of mental health patients, which drove the AMA’s opposition to some elements of universal background checks in the past. President Obama, meanwhile, issued an executive order last month that sought to rework the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to make it easier for states to report information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System while addressing concerns about privacy and stigmatization.