Political Animal


February 01, 2013 2:47 PM The Big NRA Flip-Flop On Background Checks

By Ed Kilgore

You know, I had premonitions of this story, thinking: Didn’t the NRA used to support universal background checks as the alternative to every gun control measure? Between deadline pressures and the fear that I was having a senior moment, I didn’t follow it up. But now, via TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, we have a former NRA president acknowledging that used to be the organization’s position not that very long ago, but has “changed its mind”:

The former president of the National Rifle Association told CNN Thursday night that the group has changed its mind on universal background checks. Back in 1999, after the Columbine school shooting, the NRA actually ran ads saying “it’s reasonable to provide for instant background checks at gun shows, just like gun stores and pawn shops.”
After last month’s school massacre in Newtown, Conn., the group has sounded a different note. Universal background checks are a waste of time at best and a “federal nightmare” that would lead to confiscation at worst, NRA leaders have said recently.
On CNN, former NRA President Sandy Froman admitted that the group dramatically changed its tune on universal background checks — which gun control advocates have said are their number one post-Newtown goal — and explained the reason was that the NRA now sees expanded background checks as totally ineffective.
“Yes, the NRA has changed its position,” Froman said. “And the reason it’s changed its position is because the system doesn’t work. The (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) is not working now. We have to get that working before we can add any more checks to that system. It’s already overburdened. In Colorado, I know it takes 10 — 10 days to do an instant check.”

So why not fix the system? If the NRA’s basic position is its members are law-abiding citizens who have no reason to fear background checks, why is it a problem?

Current NRA President David Keene echoed those concerns at a meeting with reporters Thursday while explaining his group’s opposition to expanded background checks. But he also sounded a more ominous note, warning that a universal background check infrastructure was possibly a first step toward a dismantling of Second Amendment rights.
“One of the reasons we’re fearful of a system like that is because we have been and continue to be and will continue to be very opposed to any kind of national gun registry system,” Keene told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor-sponsored breakfast. “For several reasons. The historic reason of course is that is a precursor in many cases to confiscation.”

So boil off the evasions, and we’re right back to the insane idea that Barack Obama is part of, a front for, or a precursor to, a totalitarian regime, and that “patriots” need the right to keep their military-style weapons on hand in case the day arrives when it’s time to start killing cops and members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Somebody with access to these people needs to very directly ask them their own personal indicators for when it’s time to start the blood-letting.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Rabbler on February 01, 2013 3:23 PM:

    In order to be a relatively quick effective process, won't the data base have to have a lot of information on all of us? A lot of info that many would love to get their hands on.

    Will a rejected status render people unemployable?

  • R. Silva on February 01, 2013 3:47 PM:

    NRA Pres. David Keene can't even educate hisown son on handgun safety. That's why he served 10 years for shooting at someone on the highway. He knows nothing.

  • c u n d gulag on February 01, 2013 4:34 PM:

    "Why is it a problem?"

    'Cause it might impedes the profits of gun manufacturers?

    And Lordy, Lordy, Lordy, we need to realize that a dozen, or a few score, or even hundreds, of dead children, are nowhere NEAR as important of a problem as gun-makers not making enough profits!

    These people are sc*mbags!

  • exlibra on February 01, 2013 5:20 PM:

    Thanks, R Silva, @ 3:47PM; I didn't know it. Precious, isn't it? What really frosts my whiskers though is that, when he gets out, he won't be able to get his voting rights restored, but his gun permit? No problem; it's free Virginia afterall...

  • exlibra on February 01, 2013 5:33 PM:

    Rabbler, @3:23PM; I thought your party's stance - ever since the warrantless monitoring began to peep out -- was that if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn't mind being watched?

    And, anyway, I'm pretty sure everyone already knows what they want to know and/or can find out easily. How else would I get custom-tailored coupons from Kroger's? How else would Social Security payments, originally deposited in the account my husband and I owned jointly, start flowing into my-own-only, separate account, the moment I applied for survivor benefits? How else would I only be seeing (on my 'puter screen) advertisements that tell me about jobs and sales in my own, small area?

    If you want privacy, build a cabin in the forest (using only scrounged up materials), don't connect to any utilities, and stay away from banks.

  • Oh my on February 01, 2013 7:32 PM:

    @ Exlibra

    Best take down I've seen in a while.

  • Anon on February 01, 2013 10:22 PM:

    "Somebody with access to these people needs to very directly ask them their own personal indicators for when itís time to start the blood-letting."

    I'll venture an answer: when a Kenyan usurper gets re-elected. It's really all about the racial animus and sense that Obama has already somehow destroyed America. Through the provision of health insurance, one suspects. Because nothing could be more un-American than showing up at an E.R. and having (eghad!) an insurance card that indicates coverage.

  • kk on February 02, 2013 2:38 AM:

    I'm SO SO tired of journalists asking questions, getting craziness in response, and then moving on.

    Keene said a universal background check system "is a precursor in many cases to confiscation." Really?


    If you were being paid to conduct this interview, wouldnt you pause for about 10 seconds and then say, "Mr. Keene, that is fascinating. Would you care to provide one case, let alone many cases, in which a universal background check was a precursor to confiscation?"

    It stuns me the way supposedly professional journalists just let these idiots broadcast the most amazing bullshit in their media without providing the slightest pushback.

  • Marc on February 02, 2013 8:50 AM:

    John Stewart did a number on this. Watch it here:


    Oh yeah, in the real data world, gun checks work.

  • jhm on February 02, 2013 9:20 AM:

    Regardless of the rhetoric the NRA employs to their perfervid rank and file, their true constituency is always discernible: if it might tend to be bad for gun sales, the NRA is against it.