NBC News alleged that the National Rifle Association would not fight
a federal universal background check bill provided that the UBC
bill omits language that calls for a national gun registry. Kaise
Hunt, a political reporter for NBC
negotiating a bill mandating background checks for all gun buyers
are privately expecting the National Rifle Association not to
fight the measure — provided the legislation does not require
private gun sellers to maintain records of the checks, NBC News
If that requirement
is met and key Republican negotiator Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma
signs on, the powerful gun lobby has signaled to lawmakers that
they would not actively oppose the bill — and not count
votes in favor of it as part of its highly influential NRA lawmaker
ratings — according to Senate aides familiar with the stalled
Not long after
the NBC News article was published, the NRA released
a statement flatly denying the claim that they would not fight
a federal UBC bill:
posted on NBCNews.com alleges that NRA will not oppose expanding
the background check system to include all private firearm sales,
“provided the legislation does not require private gun sellers
to maintain records of the checks”.
statement is completely untrue.
The NRA opposes
criminalizing private firearms transfers between law-abiding individuals,
and therefore opposes an expansion of the background check system.
The NRA supports
meaningful efforts to address the problems of violent crime and
mass violence in America, through swift and certain prosecution
of violent criminals; securing our schools; and fixing our broken
mental health system.
I believe the question isn’t whether the NRA would fight a UBC bill,
because let’s face it, they’re the NRA, they’re going to publicly
oppose anything that even vaguely resembles a gun control bill,
so the question is whether they would really care if it passed.
Let me unpack
that idea, i.e. what I mean by “care.” See, as Hunt astutely pointed
out, the crux of the matter relates to the all-important NRA lawmaker
ratings, the main leverage (aside from campaign contributions) that
the NRA has over politicians, particularly those lawmakers who come
from districts or states that by and large embrace gun culture.
So, for instance,
if a bi-partisan UBC bill is proposed that doesn’t have a provision
calling for a national registry and it passes through the Senate,
would the NRA care enough to start disparaging the Republican or
Conservative supporters of the bill? Would the NRA give someone
like Sen. Tom Coburn a failing grade for sponsoring the bill (Coburn,
an NRA member, currently as an “A” rating)?
To draw up
another scenario, if Coburn came out in favor of and subsequently
voted for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s ‘Assault Weapons Ban,’
the NRA would certainly crucify him (figuratively speaking) and
deservedly so. But with the aforementioned UBC bill, I’m not so
sure the NRA would be so aggressive in their retaliation.
This, to me,
seems to be the ultimate question. What are the direct consequences
for those lawmakers who support and/or vote for a UBC bill that
contains no mandate for a national registry?
no mistake about it, it’s coming down the legislative pike. Of Obama’s
gun control proposals,
it’s arguably the most political feasible. It’s also got the most
public support; polls show consistently that a vast majority of
those surveyed support UBCs.