On August 8, 2019, NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre issued a statement taking exception with the gun control push currently emanating from the White House and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).
On Monday, President Donald Trump voiced his support for “strong background checks,” saying, “Republicans and Democrats must come together and get strong background checks, perhaps marrying this legislation with desperately needed immigration reform. We must have something good, if not GREAT, come out of these two tragic events!”
On Wednesday, Trump followed up by pushing background checks again. The Associated Press quoted him saying, “There’s a great appetite, and I mean a very strong appetite, for background checks. And I think we can bring up background checks like we’ve never had before.”
At the same time, Democrats were pressuring Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to allow a vote on the Democrat-controlled House’s universal background check bill.
The U.S. has had background checks on retail sales sine 1998. This means purchases at gun stores, large retailers, pawn shops, etc., are conducted only after the would-be purchaser passes an FBI background check via the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Universal background checks expand those point-of-sale checks to cover private sales too.
And “assault weapons” ban and numerous other controls are also being considered in the current gun control push.
On August 8, 2019, McConnell told the Louisville, Kentucky, Terry Meiners Show that an “assault weapons” ban and other gun controls will be “front and center” when the Senate reconvenes in September.
The problem with an “assault weapons” ban is that the very phrase, “assault weapons,” is a politically driven moniker used to ban whole categories of firearms. But the moniker applies to cosmetic features of firearms — heat shield, thumbhole stock, collapsible stock, flash hider, etc. — rather than the firearms themselves. This focus on cosmetics allows proponents of an “assault weapons” ban to cover everything from commonly-owned semiautomatic rifles, to pump shotguns, to pistols with the ability to accept magazines holding more than ten rounds.
That same day, the NRA’s LaPierre put forward a statement condemning the gun control push. The statement said:
I’m not inclined to discuss private conversations with President Trump or other key leaders on this issue. But I can confirm that the NRA opposes any legislation that unfairly infringes on the rights of law-abiding citizens. The inconvenient truth is this: the proposals being discussed by many would not have prevented the horrific tragedies in El Paso and Dayton. Worse, they would make millions of law-abiding Americans less safe and less able to defend themselves and their loved ones.
LaPierre added: “The NRA will work in good faith to pursue real solutions to the epidemic of violence in America. But many proposals are nothing more than ‘soundbite solutions’ — which fail to address the root of the problem, confront criminal behavior, or make our communities safer.”
The NRA supported the creation of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, the heart of the current background check system. The system was designed to prevent felons and other criminals from acquiring guns. The Democrat approach is a broader one intent on making it harder for everyone — particularly law-abiding citizens — to exercise a constitutional right that the Left simply does not like.
California has had universal background checks since the mid-1990s and an “assault weapons” ban since 1989. The state continues to witness high-profile public shooting after high-profile public shooting. The U.S. had an “assault weapons” ban at the federal level from 1994-2004. Breitbart News reported a Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice report showing that the ban could not be credited with any reduction in crime.
Despite the clear failures of these gun controls, Trump will most likely be criticized by Democrats if such controls are not adopted. NRA board member Ken Blackwell spoke to this, saying:
The NRA has had a great relationship with President Trump, and simply made clear to all policymakers—including every congressman and senator—that the NRA supports legislation that makes communities safer for law-abiding Americans, and opposes legislation that does not actually solve problems. The reality is that the Far Left opposes both the Second Amendment and the president, and whatever he might agree to, Democrats will still condemn him for not going far enough. NRA members want safe communities, but know that gun controls from Pelosi and Schumer will not make them safer. The Democrats’ gun-control bill is a trap that would demoralize the president’s supporters while not earning him any support from those on the Left.
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him directly at [email protected]. Sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.