Monday, January 18, 2016

A Brief History

Some of us were talking the other day, and we started discussing the NICS, or the instant check system that we use to buy firearms.  Over time, my remembrance has become convoluted, but what I thought I remembered was vastly different from what others thought they remembered, so I started doing a little digging.  One of the best references I've found was at, and it closely matches my recollections.  One of the questions discussed was why the NRA doesn't support background checks.  My recollection was that it did, originally.

Shortly after the attempted assassination of President Reagan, the Brady Bunch got themselves in an uproar to pass gun control.  President Reagan was a very popular president and his spokesman, Bill Brady was a likable guy who was injured in the attack.  There was strong popular support for a bill that would strengthen the gun control regime of the nation.

The NRA saw the handwriting on the wall and supported instant background checks as an alternative to a seven-day waiting period.  The NRA knew that a waiting period might cripple the retail industry, they knew that other gun control efforts were just around the corner, and they knew that if a bill was going to be passed, they needed to work with the Congress to make it the best bill possible.  The mandate that came out of the 1993 law was that a waiting period would be imposed, but that the waiting period would be in effect for five years only.  If the FBI had not implemented a national system within five years, the law would sunset.  From the article linked above:
As the bill neared final passage, the NRA sought to make changes. GOP Rep. George Gekas of Pennsylvania won approval for an NRA-backed amendment that would end the five-day waiting period after five years, even if the instant check system wasn’t operational. Bill McIntyre, an NRA spokesman, was quoted in a Gekas press release saying that the NRA “worked closely with him on the language and to round up support for it.”
The Brady Bill passed was signed into law on Nov 30, 1993.  As with most bureaucracies, the FBI waited until the last minute before implementing the NICS checks.  Those came into effect on November 30, 1998.  If the FBI had waited another day, the legislation would have expired.  Immediately, the Brady Bunch started pushing to close the "gun-show loophole", and as always, the NRA was willing to help make the law work.
 LaPierre, May 27, 1999: We think it’s reasonable to provide for instant checks at gun shows just like at gun stores and pawn shops. But what’s unreasonable is how the proposed Lautenberg legislation ignores the 250,000 prohibited people like felons who’ve walked away from gun stores — instead of being prosecuted for a federal felony for trying to buy a gun.
And, of course, even today if you walk into a gun show and buy a gun from a licensed dealer, you will have to pass a background check.  The NRA supports background checks.  Full stop, period.  The NRA supports existing law.  But, what the members of the NRA don't support is expanding exiting law.  We've made our compromises and we've drawn a line.  This far, and no more.

It was during this time that the NRA opened their Institute for Legislative Action, a large, well-funded oeration to expand our reach and influence.  The ILA has been hugely successful at the state and federal level in stopping encroachment on a fundamental right.  They've been instrumental in keeping the creeping incrementalism from eroding a basic constitutional right.  This far and no more.

There is a great deal of bad information floating around and I try to educate people daily.  There is no federal database of firearms owners.  The law forbids such a registry on a national basis and registries only exist in a few limited jurisdictions.  It's still legal to sell a gun in a private sale, or to give a gun to a friend or family member.  The NRA still supports existing law, and exhorts law enforcement to apply those laws; to take guns from felons, to prosecute those who violate federal law, to keep Americans safe.  What we don't support is further encroachment on law-abiding Americans.

Let Freedom Ring.


Rivrdog said...

Sorry, PawPaw, I don't share your belief in the NRA's "superpowers". Their business model is, as you say, one of historic compromise, NOT historic resistance. On top of that, their major funding mechanism is the marketing of dubious insurance schemes to members in a predatory style borrowed straight from Publisher's Clearing House.

GOA or JPFO are much more to the point, do NOT compromise on 2A rights, do NOT accept the "boiled frog theory" or incrementalism in rights loss. The NRA is basically just another K-Street lobbying firm which gains most of it's membership numbers from the sweetheart blackmail deal they have going with most gun clubs and private shooting ranges, where NRA membership is mandatory to join and be able to shoot. That's big in my State, where there are no publicly-run ranges.

The 2A is being protected by groups fronting good lawyers such as CalGuns and the 2AF. For all their money, the NRA hasn't made much of a difference in court, where it counts.

I consider the NRA to be a tit on a boar, to speak plainly.

Old NFO said...

My memories are the same as yours Paw. Rivr, FYI NRA has been in the 'business' for 144 years. 2AF, for 42. There is a huge difference in the 'market' each caters to. NRA is about ALL shooters, where 2AF tends toward carry specific issues. Also, NRA has backed Gura et al in all of their suits. CalGuns was founded in 2008, again to specifically work CCW issues in California. Gene and the folks have done one helluva job, no question.

Rivrdog said...

For the first 100 years of it's existence, the NRA did not have to fight the creeping destruction of the 2A. They functioned as a promoter of gun safety and gun competition. I was part of that, earning Indoor Junior Distinguished Rifleman by age 15, and going on to intercollegiate competition.

In the 1970s, when the Democratic Party began to look at a Socialist America as it's primary goal, gun control as we know it today raised it's ugly head, as Democrats sat down and realized that the citizen armed response to the Black Panthers, then the Watts Riots, would make full implementation of Socialism unlikely, so the guns had to go.

The NRA was unprepared to adequately defend the 2A, and they have never caught up. Their primary strategy is money support of 2A-favorable candidates, but that is wrong. Their primary expenditure needs to be jailing politicians who ignore enumerated rights in the BOR. If they put just TWO gun-grabbers in prison for violation of 18USC242, few others would risk the hoosegow to support the gun-grabs.

As they "fight" now, the NRA is a Toothless Tiger.

Retired Spook said...

Bear in mind, that if every gun law currently on the books suddenly went away, the NRA membership would drop to nothing. And if you think they don't realize that, I have some beachfront property in Arizona that you might be interested in.

Oh, and it was James Brady, not Bill Brady. Bill was the NBA star turned congresscritter.