Tags: keene | guns | nra | obama

Keene: Fix Gun Background-Check System Before Going Universal

Friday, 15 Feb 2013 10:29 PM

By Todd Beamon

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National Rifle Association President David Keene said on Friday that the federal government must improve the national gun registry before adding many more potential gun owners to it through universal background checks.

”Fix the system we have. Put the people that need to be in the system in it. Make it work smoothly before you talk about flooding it with others,” Keene told CNN. “You should walk before you should run.”

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Keene was referring to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and begun by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1998, the system determines at the point of sale whether a buyer is legally barred from purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed gun dealer.

Firearm sales between private parties are exempt from the background-checks system, unless required by state law — and at gun shows, no special leniency is granted to licensed sellers, and no additional requirements are placed on private sellers.

The association has long attacked the registry, saying that does not include those who have been determined by law to be mentally ill or criminally ineligible from buying firearms.

“Gun owners aren’t interested in selling their firearms to criminals or people who have other problems that would prohibit them from owning firearms,” Keene told CNN.

He acknowledged that both the NRA and President Barack Obama are appealing to emotions to sell their respective positions to the public.

“It’s an emotional issue. I don’t deny that,” Keene told CNN. “But the question is, ‘What is the purpose of what you’re trying to do?’ The president would like to get the things he wants done very quickly — done without Congress really looking at it — and we don’t think that’s the way you make good public policy.

“We’ve been insisting over the years that the way you deal with gun crime is you prosecute criminals who use guns in the commission of crimes,” he added. “It’s a felony, a federal felony, to use a firearm in the commission of a crime.”

When asked whether the government could strengthen prosecutions while enhancing the background-check system — it was likened to walking and chewing gum at the same time — Keene responded, chuckling: “Well, apparently, the government can’t. That’s the problem that we’ve had in trying to get the government to straighten out the system.

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“The conceptual answer is, ‘probably,’” Keene added. “But the real-world answer is that it doesn’t work that way. You really do have to walk before you can run.”

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