Closing the federal loophole that allows Americans to buy guns in private transactions without having gone through a background check would be a slippery slope, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre said today, suggesting that President Obama and his administration would insist on taking it a step further.
With a so-called "universal background check," LaPierre said on "Fox News Sunday," "I think that they'll do is they'll turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry on law-abiding people. 'Obamacare' wasn't a tax until they needed it to be a tax. I don't think you can trust these people."
LaPierre said he's "been in this fight for 20 years," with the NRA having initially proposed a comprehensive background check. But unable to surmount federal laws restricting access to someone's mental health records that could signify whether that person poses a threat, he said, he changed his mind on the issue. Additionally, he argued, "the criminals are never going to comply with it; they could care less. ...It's a fraud to call it universal."
Also appearing on the program, Mark Kelly, the husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who survived a shot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead, advised LaPierre to "listen to his membership." Seventy-four percent of NRA members consider a universal background check "very reasonable," said Kelly, who also pushed for an assault weapons ban and limit to high-capacity magazines.
It's not the first head-to-head this week between LaPierre and Kelly: Both were witnesses in a hearing Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, which is examining U.S. gun laws following last month's massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school, by a gunman thought to have been mentally ill.
In his testimony, LaPierre made the case for stationing armed guards at schools across the country. Today, he stood by a controversial NRA ad that targeted the president for refusing to back the proposal while providing armed security to his daughters.
"It wasn't picking on the president's kids," he said. "The president's kids are safe, and we're all thankful for it." Pressed by host Chris Wallace on the "ridiculous" notion that other children share the same level of threats as the first daughters, LaPierre countered, "tell that to the people in Newtown."
"We've had all kinds of threats coming to us," LaPierre said, acknowledging his own armed security detail at the hearing. "I don't deny anybody the right to security when they need it. What I am saying is, it's ridiculous... for all the elites and all the powerful and privileged, the titans of industry to send their kids to schools where there is armed security, to have access to semi-automatic technology."
On Monday, Mr. Obama will travel to Minnesota to speak with law enforcement officials about his own plan to help reduce gun violence.