In another sign the National Rifle Association is confident it doesn’t need to change tactics after the Newtown, Conn. school shooting and the push for gun control it sparked, the grou’s president took to CNN Wednesday and said once again that it’s just fine people on the federal terror watch list are able to legally buy firearms.
The organization is opposed to President Obama’s new push for universal background checks because, NRA President David Keene told CNN Wednesday, reform would make it difficult for one friend to sell another friend a gun in a private transaction. He also dismissed the idea that the loopholes built into the current background check system are all that big a deal.
“First of all there’s no evidence terrorists are buying guns,” David Keene told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. But the loophole in federal law allowing people on the terrorist watch list to buy guns has been well documented, and was a central subject of a recent major push for legislation reforming the background check system.
Here’s Keene Wednesday:
The stance puts Keene on the wrong side of most polls, which find Americans favor universal background checks, as well as an oft-cited survey of NRA members, which found overwhelming support for closing the so-called “terror gap” among the NRA rank and file.
Back in 2011, the GAO released a study showing “1,228 individuals on the watch list underwent background checks to purchase firearms or explosives,” between Feb. 2004 and Feb. 2010, according to the Washington Post.
“1,119, or 91 percent, of these transactions were approved,” the paper reported.
The GAO study became a rallying cry for people like New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who called on Congress to close the loophole. The NRA dismissed the focus on the terror watch list as “21st-century McCarthyism” and opposed the altering of background check rules.
“The integrity of the terror watch list is poor, as it mistakenly contains the names of many men and women, including some high-profile Americans, who have not violated the law,” the NRA’s chief lobbyist told CNN. “In fact, a March 2009 report by the inspector general of the Department of Justice concluded that many people whose names were mistakenly placed on the list remain there even after their cases have been vetted and closed.”
Keene has not dropped that line of reasoning, just as the NRA has refused to back down from its opposition to new regulation on magazine capacity or assault weapons. As the NRA kicks off a new and hardnosed phase of its opposition to post-Newtown firearms reforms, Keene’s dismissal of the terror gap is another sign the group is confident its running the right game plan.