By Larry Keane, National Shooting Sports Foundation
Unfortunately, it has become somewhat less than startling when Connecticut’s politicians make absurd and baseless claims that slander their constituents who work in the gun industry. First it was Governor Dannel Malloy, who told CNN that: “What this is about is the ability of the gun industry to sell as many guns to as many people as possible – even if they are deranged, even if they are mentally ill, even if they have a criminal background,” Malloy said. “They don’t care. They want to sell guns.”
Despite a strong letter of protest from executives at Mossberg, Malloy not only refused to apologize for his incendiary and baseless claims, but actually doubled down on his remarks in a subsequent interview.
Now comes Senator Chris Murphy, who gave a press conference at the Connecticut state capitol this past Friday, along with Senator Dick Blumenthal. They vowed to continue pursuing the passage of expanded background checks, and a reporter asked how they would counter the “legitimate reasons” that NSSF and others opposed the bill. Murphy not only said that reasons for opposing the bill were “made up,” but he also repeated Malloy’s slanderous claim. You can watch the video for yourself here, the exchange begins at 12:01.
Reporter: NSSF told us they lobbied heavily against it for several reasons that sound quite legitimate. They have told us that they lobbied against it, number one, because the way the background checks were set up, it would have given priority to gun shows for background checks, which primarily happen on weekends, which would have effectively shut down the background system for the regular retailers….they also say that the background check bill required the private sales, to have their background check done by a regular retailer, who’s going to have to do all of the paperwork and be responsible for it, and have all the liability for it, which their members say they don’t want. Is there any way around that stuff?
Murphy: There’s no way around it because it’s a made up argument — there’s no liability on behalf of the person who’s doing … (follow up question) there’s no legal liability, then let’s take the first argument as well. A background check takes a handful of minutes, there’s no argument that adding additional background checks is going to create an undue burden on people who are buying guns today through federally licensed dealers. The system absolutely has the capacity to be able to do additional background checks, and it is just a made-up argument to suggest that there are going to be some burdensome inconvenience by this bill.
The Shooting Sports Foundation and the NRA are captives of the gun industry, right, and the gun industry is interested in selling more guns, whether it be to law-abiding citizens or criminals. I don’t know that I believed that at the beginning of this process, but having watched the conduct of the foundation and the NRA, I am convinced that their business model relies on selling guns to anybody and everybody who wants them.”
I would suggest Murphy first consult the Obama budget blueprint. According to this Washington Post article, “The Obama administration estimated in its budget request that expanding background checks to all private firearms sales would have doubled the system’s workload. The administration projected that if such a universal requirement was imposed, the FBI would need to spend $168 million in fiscal 2014, or $100 million more than projected under current law.” So the system actually does not “absolutely” have the capacity to handle the additional checks.
And it’s not even remotely arguable that gun show checks would not have been prioritized under Manchin-Toomey, blocking retail gun sales if even one gun show check came up “delayed.” There’s nothing “made up” about it, it’s the text of the bill on white paper. Maybe the Senator should read the bill himself before he speaks and embarrasses himself.
But since Murphy, like Malloy, is willing to state the blatant untruth that the “gun industry is interested in selling more guns, whether it be to law-abiding citizens or criminals,” then we’ve gone past the point of no return. There’s no point trying to argue the facts with politicians who are willing to lie to the media and slander their own constituents in order to score cheap political points. All we can say is, here we go again.
Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.