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.