NRA ramps up campaign against background checks
February 12th, 2013
12:04 PM ET
10 years ago

NRA ramps up campaign against background checks

Washington (CNN) - The National Rifle Association is trying to build momentum against the proposed expansion of background checks for gun purchases.

At a gun show in the Virginia suburbs this weekend the NRA's lobbying arm set up a booth to lobby against the gun control measures being pushed by the White House. Prominently displayed at the booth were two signs – one opposing the bill being pushed by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, that would ban military style assault weapons and the other was against imposing universal background checks saying they "would not be universal."

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NRA officials handed out a flyer titled: "NO to 'Universal' Background Checks" saying "While banning guns and magazines is being actively promoted by the anti-gunners, the criminalization of private firearm transfers is the centerpiece of their anti-Second Amendment efforts. This is part of a strategy to chip away at our Second Amendment rights under the guise of being 'reasonable.'"

What gun control proponents are trying to do is close the so-called "gun show loophole," which allows many private purchases, many of which occur at gun shows, not to have undergo federal background checks.

Any purchase by a federally licensed dealer – whether at a store or at show – must undergo such a check.

The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, however, estimates 40% of gun purchases in the U.S. each year are through private sales – ones that don't undergo background checks.

Some political experts have said the expansion of background checks has the best chance of the various proposals to pass.

But the NRA is pushing back hard. It has prominently posted an op-ed, first printed in USA Today, by Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre on the front page of its website in which he says: "Criminals won't participate in a 'universal' system. They'll always steal or get their guns, and everything else they want, on the black market. Reasonable people know that criminals will never be part of the 'universe.'"

The group Mayors Against Illegal Guns sponsored an ad in the Washington, D.C. area during the Super Bowl to lobby for the checks expansion by highlighting a 1999 comment LaPierre made: "We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show. No loopholes anywhere. For anyone."

The fight over gun control is playing a prominent role in the lead-up to President Obama's State of the Union with both sides trying to take advantage. Members of Congress have invited more than 120 survivors and family members of victims of gun violence to attend the president's address, and some of them will be featured at a Washington press conference Tuesday to demand action on the gun control proposals before Congress.

On the other side the NRA is continuing to see a major influx of new members spurred by the debate. The organization set a record of 450,000 members two weeks ago. Those attending last weekend's show – the largest in the D.C. area - got a free admission into the show if they joined the NRA or renewed their membership.

The show hiked its entrance fee this year. Organizers posted a sign outside the show warning: "Admission has gone up because we are using the money to fight so you can keep and bear your guns." It also said it has already spent $25,000 "to stop impending legislation by hiring lawyers, lobbyists and writing bills."

There were waits throughout the weekend to get into the show. Once they were inside, besides the NRA booth, there were not many obvious signs of the raging debate. One dealer did post a note at his booth saying "Obama hates me."

Filed under: NRA
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Bengal

    Sorry but there are enough laws on the books already. First all of these shootings happened in 'Gun Free Zones' . Obviously criminals and evil people do exist. Why is there no security to make sure these gun free zones are gun free ??
    These property owners need to be held responsible for their lack of security.

    February 12, 2013 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, however, estimates 40% of gun purchases in the U.S. each year are through private sales – ones that don't undergo background checks."

    Hey, America. It's 12:21 pm. Do YOU know where YOUR guns are (or who you sold 'em to) ... ?

    February 12, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  3. CNN The Loud Mouth

    Parents of the mentally ill must be automatically granted "Custodianship" of their mentally ill children when they turn 18. Custodians should be required to show the State each year the steps taken to treat their "Ward's" mental illness. The burden should be placed on the mentally ill to prove why the Custodian / Ward relationship is not needed. Releasing, untreated, unmonitored mentally ill people into society when they turn 18, is sick. Had this been the law of the land, there would have been no Aurora or Sandy Hook massacres.

    February 12, 2013 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  4. Sniffit

    "A Sheriff in a neighboring county recently announced a gun buy back program, and stated that the weapons turned in would be destroyed."

    What the NRA and gun nuts do in that situation...and this just happened in AZ (I think that was the state) they go hold their own "buyback" event. Why? Because the goal is to keep the guns in circulation. In their minds there is no such thing as an "unwanted gun" and it is dogmatically considered a bad thing...evil take any gun out of circulation. Why? The more guns in circulation, the more gun transactions are likely to occur. It's all about the sales and the $$$$$$.

    February 12, 2013 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  5. much thunder.little rain

    tried to buy shells lately....

    February 12, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  6. Kevin

    So the NRA supports terrorist and illegal aliens buying weapons. That is quite the stand.

    February 12, 2013 01:38 pm at 1:38 pm |
  7. Name lynn

    The NRA cant stop nothing, not even crimminals from getting guns, what about background checks. Who need them when people can buy guns off the streets.

    February 12, 2013 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    "So the NRA supports terrorist and illegal aliens buying weapons. That is quite the stand."

    Of course they do. "If they're armed, we can shoot them."

    February 12, 2013 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  9. Sniffit

    "Guns don't kill/shoot people, people kill/shoot people, so let's make sure everyone has a gun."

    February 12, 2013 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  10. lolo

    These people make up things as they go along period. They say one thing and do another. It is definitely all about the money.

    February 12, 2013 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  11. Larry L


    Sorry but there are enough laws on the books already.
    All private sales in Texas do not require a background check. I have sold many guns at gun shows by walking around with a gun and a for sale sign. The guy walks up, looks at the gun, gives me money, no information exchanged, and he walks away. That's it. I've realized the problem with that process and will never sell in that legal-but-stupid manner again. I've personally witnessed dealers at gun shows quietly coaching an apparent gang-banger (stereotyping – sue me) on how to get a friend with a clean record to fill out the FFL for a purchase. Does that sound like a problem to you?

    February 12, 2013 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  12. anagram_kid

    Two points – the NRA is making a mistake to fight this. As gun violence continues the backlash they face will extend well beyond assault riffles and background checks. They would be wise to pick their battle more carefully.

    Secondly, background checks are not the long term solution. A person may be perfectly well adjusted and healthy when they apply and obtain the weapon(s) and then life happens. They get fired, find out their spouse wants a divorce or has been unfaithful, they get cut off in traffic or whatever event or illness is setting these people off. The answer is fewer guns and access to health care.

    February 12, 2013 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
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