National Rifle Association executive vice president Wayne LaPierre appeared on Fox Business' Varney & Company to falsely claim that a legislative proposal to require a criminal background check on almost every gun sale would create a national gun owner registry and possibly lead to firearm confiscation.
LAPIERRE: It is a huge waste of money. It's going to be selectively enforced. It's going to be abused. And the worst thing, you're creating a registry of all the law-abiding people in the country that own firearms. I know the politicians say, “Hey, we'll never use that list to confiscate.” That's a pretty darn tall order to believe a promise from people in this town right now.
The list that LaPierre referenced does not exist and would not be created under a proposal to strengthen the background check system.
In fact, federal law prohibits the creation of a gun owner registry and the proposal to expand background checks would not subject gun buyers to any record-keeping requirements that do not already exist for transactions conducted at a gun store. As gun advocate Dave Kopel explains on the NRA's website, “the Firearms Owners' Protection Act of 1986 (FOPA) ... prohibited the creation of a registry of gun owners.”
The FBI, which administers the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), destroys identifying information about gun owners within 24 hours in order to comply with this law.
Under current law, licensed firearm dealers are required retain a copy of the ATF Form 4473, the form used to complete the background check, as a sales receipt. Under legislation proposed to improve the background check system, a federally licensed firearms dealer would oversee firearms transactions between private individuals by running a background check on the purchaser. The 4473 form used in that transaction would be kept in the dealer's records, just as records are kept for individuals who buy from the licensed dealer directly. The current legislative proposal would exempt transfers between immediate family members and temporary transfers for hunting or self-defense from the background check requirement.
During his Fox Business appearance, LaPierre illogically argued that the failure of the background check system to stop every dangerous person from obtaining a firearm was a valid reason to not pursue improvements to the system. According to LaPierre, background checks should not be expanded to nearly all guns sales because “criminals will never go through that system.”
Even though the current background check system is hampered by a loophole that allows a significant proportion of gun transactions to occur without a background check, the system prevented nearly 2 million dangerous individuals from obtaining firearms between 1994 and 2008. A 2012 Department of Justice report noted that nearly 153,000 individuals were denied by NICS and state agencies in 2010 alone.
LaPierre has previously appeared on Varney & Company to push falsehoods about guns. During a November 2012 appearance, LaPierre incorrectly claimed there are no differences between assault weapons and other firearms. At the end of the segment, host Stuart Varney remarked that LaPierre's appearance has been an “excellent commercial for the NRA.”