The National Rifle Association is gearing up to fight President Obama’s proposals for banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and requiring universal background checks. Pro Publica shares some insight on how the gun lobby might approach its task in an analysis at nationofchange.org.
To get a sense of what the NRA might do, it’s helpful to look at how it scored a victory during the last major federal initiative to tighten gun control.
That push happened after the Virginia Tech mass shooting, in which 32 students and faculty were killed on campus in April 2007. Afterward, the Bush administration proposed that all states be required to give the Federal Bureau of Investigation the names of residents involuntarily committed to a mental health treatment facility. The names would then be entered into a database used for federal background checks, thus blocking sales by licensed dealers to those individuals.
The NRA won concessions in the House of Representatives that have prevented many states from participating. Twenty-three states and Washington, D.C., have reported fewer than 100 records apiece.
States can’t get federal grants to pay for the data collection unless they create a program for individuals with a history of mental illness to regain gun rights. The NRA added new concessions when the bill moved to the Senate allowing automatic gun rights restoration in some cases. Virginia is a full participant in the database. A New York Times investigation found that the state has restored gun rights in some instances after receiving no more than a letter requesting the action.
Will the NRA try to kill Obama’s proposals, will it simply fill them with loopholes, or will Congress be less willing to give the gun lobby everything it wants this time?