I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about the NRA on Facebook, Twitter and this Blog. So, I decided to take three of the most common myths and shed some light on the conversation.
“The NRA supports Universal Background Checks”
Though I wrote about this several weeks ago, I feel I need to address this topic again. Recent news articles claim the NRA is having closed-door talks with politicians in order to work out a background check deal. Though these articles typically come from less-than-reputable news sources, they have created quite a buzz. The NRA stated on multiple occasions they are not in the business of Universal Background Checks and they staunchly oppose the implementation of Universal Background Checks or anything that could lead to a National Firearms Registry. Though I am not behind those closed-doors on the Hill, I can speculate that any background check discussion would be the NRA’s push for strengthening and improving the current system. As it stands today, the NICS system is imperfect, incomplete and unenforced. Obviously, there is the occasional problem with false positives—letting a restricted person, such as a convicted felon, purchase a gun—and false negatives—mistakes made that cause a legal gun owner to be rejected for purchase of a new firearm. However, and more importantly, felons attempting to purchase weapons through the NICS system are not usually prosecuted, though it is a federal felony to lie on Form 4473. Also, adjudicated mental disorders are not regularly reported to NICS, allowing the person in question to purchase a firearm despite federal law. The NRA supports measures to improve the system, so people who shouldn’t have guns can’t purchase them. Let’s look at the official numbers:
- In 2010, over 6 million NICS checks were made. 98.8% of those were legal gun owners.
- 1.2% or 72,659 people were rejected in the NICS system as not able to purchase firearms.
- 34,459 of those were felons and 13,862 were fugitives (others were domestic abusers, drug addicts, and those with restraining orders against them).
How many of those people were prosecuted for their felony gun crime? 62. And how many of those were convicted of their crime? 13. Judging by the numbers, it is clear our background check system could use a bit of improvement. If the NRA does come out backing any type of “background check deal,” I’m quite certain it will involve actually enforcing the laws on the books and improving the NICS system to ensure that people who shouldn’t be allowed to purchase guns can’t actually buy them.
“The NRA sold us out then, and they’ll do it again!”
I have seen and heard many comments along this line. The NRA pushed this way or that on some bill or another that restricted gun rights. Is it true? In some ways, yes. The NRA-ILA and the CRLDF take on hundreds if not thousands of cases every year. And though we would love to “never give an inch, never surrender,” sometimes the best or only option is to compromise; such as in the 1986 “Firearm Owners Protection Act.” This bill prevented the BATFE from repeatedly harassing or intimidating FFL dealers and gun owners, prevented prosecution for transporting across state lines, prevented a national firearms registry and prevented prosecution for transporting a firearm through a state with restrictive gun laws. However, the law also added that fully automatic weapons had to be registered or they could not be owned or transferred. Despite the added “machine gun ban” amendments, the NRA still backed the bill because the benefits to gun owners were great strides in gun rights. Automatic weapons were already highly regulated by this time, so it was worth it to the lobbyists to let registration of automatic weapons go. So, in a way the NRA did turn their backs on gun owners. However, the NRA did so only to gain more rights for gun owners in exchange for a little extra hassle for automatic weapon ownership. To put it in a contemporary setting, if Congress was voting on bills for an assault weapons ban, magazine ban, universal background checks, and a national firearms registry, the NRA would resist those bills and push a less intrusive “One percent extra firearm tax to pay for better school security” bill. (I must note however, that the above is only an illustration, not any sort of accurate estimate of the NRA’s legislative agenda. It is merely an example of how the NRA would compromise with Congress to push actual common sense solutions that would have more effect in the real world.)
“The NRA is just a shill for the gun and ammo manufacturers!”
This is something I’ve heard too many times. There is some truth to it, but not much. The NRA is made up of members who love shooting, collecting, hunting, and everything else gun related. People who love guns and want to keep their rights to own and use those guns join the NRA to join the largest lobbying and interest group in the nation. People who work for the shooting sports industry, such as myself, my colleagues, gunsmiths at Beretta, ammo manufacturers at Remington and the gun cabinet guy at Cabelas, all join the NRA because they defend our firearm passion and livelihood. Companies often donate money to the NRA to protect our RTKBA. But is the NRA just taking orders from all gun companies? No, the NRA takes orders from the members of the association; the guys and gals who love guns and want to keep their rights. If any group is a “shill” for the firearm and ammunition companies, it would the NSSF, but even that is a stretch. The National Shooting Sports Foundation is the trade organization that represents all of the companies that make up the shooting sports. Their job is to protect and defend shooting industry companies and rights. However, in this industry, the views of the NRA and the NSSF almost always are directly tied if not the same. “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” the old saying goes, and what is good for the gun owner is good for the gun industry.
I hope I have cleared some myths up for you. If I haven’t, or if you have other questions you want answered, please tell me in the comment section. I will field whatever questions you have regarding the NRA or current legislation and I will try to answer them to the best of my ability.
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