March 14, 2011 6:07 pm ET - by Chris Brown
Today, National Rifle Association (NRA) executive vice president Wayne LaPierre appeared on Fox News' America Live to discuss President Obama's new gun safety proposals and found himself in the unusual position of agreeing with the man the NRA calls "the most anti-gun president in American history."
The president recently made a long-awaited statement on gun policy, in which he focused on limited but important changes to the background check system. Obama's proposals are:
First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that's supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn't been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states - but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.
Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data - and therefore do the most to protect our citizens.
Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can't escape it.
Obama is referring to the NICS Improvement Act, which four years ago President Bush signed into law. The goal was to make sure state records that disqualified people from buying a gun were moved from state databases to the National Instant Background Check System (NICS). Failure to move Virginia Tech mass shooter Seung-Hui Cho's records into the NICS system allowed him to pass background checks and purchase firearms he used to kill 32 people.
Despite bipartisan support for this law, it has yet to be fully implemented, with more than 2 million records of disqualified persons not yet added to NICS largely because of low funding levels. Any of these disqualified people could purchase firearms if not prohibited for another reason. Recent polling shows that 89 percent of Americans, including 89 percent of gun-owning households, support fully funding the NICS Improvement Act.
On Fox News, LaPierre started off by ignoring the content of President Obama's proposals and suggesting he isn't interested in having a "dialogue" on guns. But when pressed, LaPierre reluctantly admitted he supports funding the NICS system.
LaPIERRE: Look, NRA's all for the Instant Check. We were there before anyone else was even talking about it. We need to fund it, we to make the sure the states turn over their records.
In the past, we've documented LaPierre's reluctance to vocalize support for fully funding the NICS background check system. LaPierre's reluctance is likely explained by NRA's heavy investment ($15 million in 2008) in attacking Obama and convincing people that he is going to be seizing their guns any moment now. This factually challenged dystopian world view might help NRA fundraising, but it doesn't reflect the reality of the president's common sense gun safety proposals.
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