The National Rifle Association (NRA) has come out against a proposal agreed to in Washington on April 10 that would expand background checks to more gun buyers.
“Expanding background checks at gun shows will not prevent the next shooting, will not solve violent crime and will not keep our kids safe in schools,” the association said in a statement.
Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., said their accord would help keep firearms from criminals and the mentally ill. Subjecting more firearms purchases to federal background checks has been the chief goal of President Barack Obama and gun control supporters, who promote the system as a way to prevent criminals and other potentially dangerous people from getting the weapons.
But the NRA, which represents more than four million members, says more background checks isn’t the solution, instead advocating fixing “a broken mental health system.”
“The sad truth is that no background check would have prevented the tragedies in Newtown, Aurora or Tucson,” the association said. “We need a serious and meaningful solution that addresses crime in cities like Chicago, addresses mental health deficiencies, while at the same time protecting the rights of those of us who are not a danger to anyone.”
Obama should deal with the gang problem “that is tormenting honest people in his hometown,” rather than blame “law-abiding gun owners for the acts of psychopathic murderers,” the association said.
The administration was continuing its effort to pressure Congress on gun control on Wednesday as first lady Michelle Obama planned to visit a high school in Chicago, the Obamas’ hometown, where authorities say 29 current or former students have been shot in the past year.
Currently, the background check system covers sales only by licensed gun dealers. The compromise would apply the system to all commercial sales, such as transactions at gun shows and online. The sales would have to be channeled through licensed firearms dealers, who would have to keep records of the transactions.
Private transactions that are not for profit, such as those between relatives, would be exempt from background checks.
John Donohue,the C. Wendell and Edith M. Carlsmith professor of law at Stanford Law School, said in an op-ed on CNN that more background checks “would impose a minor burden on gun manufacturers.”
The reason the NRA is opposed, he said, is likely because the checks would limit the size of the market, “and therefore, profits.” One way is from shutting a loophole in the system that allows anyone, including criminals and the mentally ill, to buy guns at gun shows and through private dealings.
“But there is also an indirect loss of profit: Cutting off sales to the mentally ill and criminals will reduce crime and thereby reduce the public’s demand for guns for self-protection,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.