The Washington Post Fact Checker recently distorted the role the National Rifle Association (NRA) played in the National Instant Criminal Background System (NICS). They obfuscated and omitted key details to inaccurately portray the gun rights group as unjustifiably taking credit for the background check system currently in place.
The not-so veiled insinuations are all meant to support the claim that the NRA did not support NICS and do not support making it stronger. That claim is false.
Fact Checker wrote that “after President Bill Clinton signed the Brady law in 1993, the NRA argued that the whole thing — including the NICS — should be struck down as unconstitutional.”
“The NRA’s love-hate relationship with the NICS database is something to behold,” they wrote. “The group once fought to strike down the law that created the database. Failing that, the NRA still managed to defang one of the law’s provisions.”
This is textbook obfuscation.
The Brady Act should be understood as two separate measures, one with an interim provision for background checks and another with a permanent provision. The NICS database was established by the latter and the NRA supported those efforts.
However, they did oppose the interim provision, which imposed a simple waiting period with a federal mandate to the States to conduct background checks only on handgun buyers. They supported the NICS established in the permanent provision because they believed the FBI, not State law enforcement authorities, should conduct background checks and, not just for the purchase of handguns, but for all firearms.
They demanded the wait period in the temporary provision be replaced by instant background checks at the point of sale once that technology was available. Their argument was a Tenth Amendment argument and their collective support was always for a more expansive background check system than the one set up by the temporary provision in the Brady Act.
We urge you to read the amicus brief filed by the NRA in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for yourself. There is no mention of the NICS, at all. While they did “fail in that” particular aim, the U.S. Supreme Court eventually agreed with the NRA in Sheriff Jay Printz v. U.S. (1997) that the federal mandate to local authorities was a violation of the Tenth Amendment.
The High Court ruled that Congress could not draft the States, only offer financial incentives to report the records of criminals and mentally ill people who shouldn’t purchase firearms.
They supported and believed in the constitutionality of the NICS because it’s run by the FBI, which Congress has authority over. They also have long argued that Congress has power to offer financial assistance to States to establish a system to report criminal convictions, which they’ve fought to expand into mental and other forms of disabilities that disqualify an individual from being able to obtain a firearm.
The NRA supported the NICS Improvements Act of 2007 in an effort to do just that.
What the Washington Post Fact Checker forgot to mention is that both political parties have repeatedly agreed to expand NICS to include mental health records. As People’s Pundit Daily (PPD) and others have examined, NRA-supported solutions would’ve had a far greater impact on the prevention of mass shootings than stricter gun control measures supported by their enemies.
As NRA President Wayne LaPierre recently reminded everyone at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), politicians have given them their word on these measures. They, not the NRA, have gone back on their word and have failed to act.
Rather than take ownership of those failures, they’ve chosen instead to scapegoat a Second Amendment-respectiving group that’s actually done quite a bit to enhance public safety. And their water-carriers in Big Media, such as the Washington Post Fact Checker, let them get away with it instead of doing their job.