Three months after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, a universal background check requirement is precariously close to being eliminated from the Senate’s gun violence prevention package. The measure is a centerpiece of the plan, as it closes the so-called gun show loophole that allows anyone to purchase guns through “private” sales without undergoing background check.
In the days following the Sandy Hook shooting, a bipartisan group of lawmakers signaled they would be open to supporting the requirement. But as memories of the “Connecticut effect” fade, many are refusing to vote for the provision and are parroting NRA talking points to justify their opposition:
NRALAWMAKERIT’S A GUN GRAB”This so-called background check is aimed at one thing — registering your guns. When another tragic opportunity presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns.” [Wayne LaPierre, 2/24/2013]“A thinly-veiled national gun registration scheme hidden under the guise of “background checks” to ensure federal government minders gain every bureaucratic tool they need for full-scale confiscation.” [Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), 1/22/2013]FOCUS ON PROSECUTION”I’ll tell you the biggest single hole in it right now. If you’re a felon and you walk into a gun store and you try to buy a gun, and they go, “Oh, you’re a felon, and we’re going to turn you down,” they let you walk out, and they don’t prosecute you.” [Wayne LaPierre, 12/23/2012]“When almost 80,000 people fail a background check and 44 people are prosecuted, what kind of deterrent is that? I mean, the law obviously is not seeing that as important…. We absolutely do nothing to enforce the laws on the books.” [Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), 2/27/2013]
CRIMINALS WON’T FOLLOW THE LAW”Background checks will never be ‘universal’ — because criminals will never submit to them.” [Wayne LaPierre, 1/30/2013]”Obviously, criminals do get guns. They obtain them because they do not comply with background checks. Supporters of this bill contend that if we only make background checks universal, criminals will not get guns. But criminals do not comply with existing background check laws.” [Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), 3/12/2013]
IT WILL CREATE A GUN REGISTRY”Imagine right now your name on a massive government list…Picture this: your name, your address on a map giving directions to your home that could include a list of all the specific firearms you own.” [Wayne LaPierre, 2/24/2013]”I don’t think the federal government has any business of having a list of law-abiding citizens who choose to their right to keep and bear arms.” [Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), 1/7/2013]DON’T NEED NEW GUN LAWS”The fact is, we could dramatically cut crime in this country with guns and save lives all over this country if we would start enforcing the 9,000 federal laws we have on the books.” [Wayne LaPierre, 1/30/2013] “I have a hard time telling my constituents in Texas that Congress is looking at passing a whole raft of new laws, when the laws that we currently have on the books are so woefully unenforced.” [Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), 1/20/2013]
Though the NRA had supported background checks after the Columbine shooting in 1999, it began fear mongering against the provision early on in the renewed debate, claiming that it would establish a federal registry of gun owners and eventually lead to confiscation. In reality, a registry of legal gun owners violates federal law, and the Obama administration has repeatedly said they have no interest in taking way guns or creating a national registry.
The NRA donated $841,337 to Republicans and $115,150 to Democrats in the 2012 election cycle.