"I think what they'll do is turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry of law-abiding people. And law-abiding people don't want that. My God, that's the last thing they want," LaPierre said on "Fox News Sunday."
After host Chris Wallace pointed out that post-Newtown firearms proposals from President Obama and other Democrats don't call for a national registry or a confiscation of weapons already in private hands, LaPierre said he wasn't buying it.
"Obamacare wasn't a tax until they wanted it to be a tax. I don't think you can trust these -- I mean my gosh, [Sen.] Dianne Feinstein [D-CA] said, 'If we could go door to door and pick 'em up, I'd do it,'" he said.
The two sides of the universal background check debate were laid out fairly cleanly on "Fox News Sunday," with Mark Kelly, husband of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ), advocating for it. Though an assault weapons ban was discussed -- and largely dismissed as a legislative possibility -- the focus was on universal background checks, the top goal of the gun control community after the school massacre in Newtown, Conn.
LaPierre argued that background checks were ineffective, possibly part of a government plot against gun owners, and not a real legislative option because of a powerful "mental health lobby." He noted that the NRA used to support universal checks but said special interests surrounding mental health and privacy had derailed the effort and led to NRA leaders throwing in the towel.
"The instant check was actually the NRA's proposal. We offered it as an amendment to the Brady Bill. And I've been in this fight for 20 years. We supported it. We put it on the books. But I have finally become convinced after fighting to get the mental records computerized for 20 years and watching the mental health lobby, the HIPAA laws, the AMA oppose it, I don't think it's going to happen," he said. "The mental health lobby won't do it. The HIPAA laws won't do it. I wish it would happen. We're all for it. But its not."
Kelly, meanwhile, in a separate interview, called on the government to prosecute more people who try to buy guns at licensed dealers but are denied after a background check. Then he called for legislation aimed at making it harder for someone who can't buy a gun at a licensed dealer to buy it somewhere else.
"Since 1999, 1.7 million people were prevented from getting a firearm because they had a criminal record or a history of mental illness. We stopped those people from getting a gun," Kelly said. "Now we've got to make sure they don't have a second option to get the gun and that's getting a gun from a private seller or the gun show loophole without having a background check. We need to close that loophole."