After mass shootings like Wednesday’s tragic Parkland, Florida attack, gun violence prevention advocates often urge legislation to require universal background checks for gun purchases, closing a longstanding loophole that allows private sales at gun shows without one. And members of the Republican majority in Congress typically dismiss these suggestions as unlikely to have prevented the particular attack. Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC), for example, said Thursday, “Usually at about this time, we hear about the gun show loophole, fine, close the gun show loophole, but how many mass killings have resulted from guns purchased at gun shows?”
But frequent Fox News guest and American Conservative Union Chairman Matt Schlapp took a different approach on Fox & Friends Friday morning, actually claiming that the gun show loophole does not even exist — a position contradicted by his own group’s actions.
Another guest on the show, former Missouri state Representative Don Calloway (D), urged action to prevent future mass shootings and accurately noted that “We have gun show loopholes throughout this country.”
“That is not true,” Schlapp responded.
Calloway answered, “That is absolutely true. You can go into any gun show in many states in this country, 30 states and buy a gun without a significant background check.”
“That is not true,” Schlapp repeated. “That’s not accurate.”
Host Steve Doocy made no attempt to correct Schlapp’s obviously false statements, changing the subject to the need to make it easier for kids to report suspicious classmates.
The irony is that part of the reason for the gun show loophole’s continued existence is the efforts of Schlapp and his organization to fight efforts to close it and any other forms of “gun control.” Indeed, a 2014 New Mexico legislative scorecard — bearing Schlapp’s own signature on the second page — explicitly opposed that state’s efforts to rectify the problem: “HB 77 Second Amendment. This bill requires a background check for the transfer of a firearm at a gun show. ACU opposes restricting Second Amendment rights and opposed this bill. The bill passed the House on February 13, 2013 by a vote of 43-26.”
If Sclapp really believed background checks were already required for private sales at background checks, as he claimed on Friday, it is hard to image why he would negatively score such a vote on his legislative scorecard.
The gun show loophole is alive and well in Florida. With some of the weakest gun laws in the country, the state does not even require an ID to purchase a gun, making it easier to obtain a firearm than to vote.
While the American Conservative Union may not be a household name, it is the multi-million dollar tax-exempt operation behind the annual CPAC conference. The gathering attracts conservative leaders including President Donald Trump, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI), and the National Rifle Association’s leadership.