Since President Obama unveiled his anti-gun violence proposals, National Rifle Association President David Keene has denied the NRA’s well-documented efforts to weaken background checks.
In an interview Thursday on CBS This Morning, Keene claimed the gun group has been “very supportive” of background checks, even though the NRA has fought to maintain the gun show loophole, leaving most gun transactions unchecked and undocumented. Although President Obama’s proposals include strengthened background checks, Keene dismissed them as “feel good proposals” that “won’t work”:
KEENE: The NRA has been one of the biggest supporters of the so-called NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check] system which provides background checks. In the past, when they were talking about checks at gun shows, most guns sold at gun shows do involve a background check because they are sold by licensed dealers.
CBS HOST NORAH O’DONNELL: But 40 percent of guns are from private sales.
KEENE: Most of those aren’t at gun shows. [...] At the gun shows we suggested to the Bureau of Tobacco and firearms some years ago if they want everyone who has an exchange checked all they have to do is provide a booth and do it. They said no we weren’t interested in that, we weren’t going to fund it.
The difficulty comes in when you’re talking about you and me as next-door neighbors and you buy a new shotgun and want to sell one to me. How do you enforce a background check on that? We want to see the proposal. As a general proposition, the NRA has been very supportive of doing background checks through purchasers on the instant system.
The NRA has deliberately and methodically opposed background checks, and pursues this tactic both before and after mass shootings. In April, the NRA endorsed a Colorado bill that repealed state-run background checks on firearms. When the group opposed a bill in Delaware that would require checks on sales at gun shows, it conspiratorially floated the “true intent of this legislation is to move towards an ultimate ban on all private sales.” Far from being open to background checks at gun shows, as Keene suggested, the NRA would raise alarm whenever states sought to end this loophole.
Still, the gun show loophole is not the whole story. Thanks to the NRA, at least 11 states automatically restore ex-felons’ access to guns once they served their term, and many states allow violent felons to petition for firearms.
Background checks have near-universal support. According to a new NYT/CBS poll, over 90 percent of the country — including Republicans and gun owners — agrees on this gun violence prevention measure.