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Billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg took a familiar swipe at NRA chief executive Wayne LaPierre during an Aug. 11 interview on CBS’s "Face the Nation."
Host Margaret Brennan asked Bloomberg, who helped launch the gun control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety, if he thought the NRA would be able to "bankroll" in 2020 like it did in 2016, when it gave millions to President Donald Trump’s campaign.
Numerous mass shootings have taken place since Trump’s election, including two in the span of 24 hours last weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio.
"I think the NRA has been very badly hurt by this," Bloomberg said. "Ninety percent of NRA members are in favor of background checks, so the NRA is not in the place of most of its members. And in fact, if you go back, you can see Wayne LaPierre, who runs the NRA, testifying before Congress in favor of background checks 15 or 20 years ago."
It’s still accurate.
We wanted to revisit the history in light of the NRA’s typically staunch resistance to gun control efforts and the Washington Post’s recent report that LaPierre called Trump to warn against pushing for background checks.
On May 27, 1999, a month after the Columbine High School shooting, LaPierre testified before the House Judiciary Committee Subcommittee on Crime.
LaPierre, also the chief executive at that time, listed a number of gun-related actions and laws the group believed would be "reasonable." Mandatory background checks for guns at gun shows was one.
"We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show," he said. "No loopholes anywhere for anyone."
"That means closing the Hinckley loophole so the records of those adjudicated mentally ill are in the system," he continued. "This isn't new, or a change of position, or a concession. I've been on record on this point consistently, from our national meeting in Denver, to paid national ads and position papers, to news interviews and press appearances."
"We think it’s reasonable to provide for instant gun checks at shows, just like at gun stores and pawn shops," LaPierre said, echoing a message at the heart of an NRA advertising campaign from that year.
In 2013, LaPierre and the NRA acknowledged the change in position.
In a January Senate hearing that year — this time following a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. — LaPierre was asked by Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., about his 1999 testimony on background checks.
Leahy asked if the United States should "have mandatory background checks at gun shows for sales of weapons."
"Senator, I do not believe, the way the law is working now, unfortunately, that it does any good to extend the law to private sales between hobbyists and collectors," LaPierre said.
In response to a follow-up, he added: "We do not (support mandatory background checks at gun shows), because the fact is, the law right now is a failure the way it’s working."
Also in January 2013, NRA board member Sandy Froman told CNN, "The NRA has changed its position, and the reason it's changed its position is because the system doesn't work."
Plus, on March 12, 2013, the NRA signaled its opposition to background checks on its website: "The NRA opposes criminalizing private firearms transfers between law-abiding individuals, and therefore opposes an expansion of the background check system."
Bloomberg said, "If you go back, you can see Wayne LaPierre, who runs the NRA, testifying before Congress in favor of background checks 15 or 20 years ago."
In 1999 testimony before Congress, LaPierre said, "We think it's reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show."
Subsequent statements from LaPierre and other NRA officials have acknowledged that the organization’s position on background checks has since changed.
We rate Bloomberg’s statement True.
CBS News, "Transcript: Michael Bloomberg on "Face the Nation," August 11, 2019," Aug. 11, 2019
CSPAN, "Wayne LaPierre 1999," accessed Aug. 13, 2019
The Washington Post, "Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence on Jan. 30, 2013 (Transcript)," Jan. 30, 2019
The Washington Post, "Trump’s openness to extensive background checks for gun buys draws warning from NRA," Aug. 8, 2019
Open Secrets, "The NRA Placed Big Bets on the 2016 Election, and Won Almost All of Them," Nov. 9, 2016
PolitiFact, "Michael Bloomberg: NRA used to support more background checks," March 26, 2013
PolitiFact, "It's Bloomberg vs. LaPierre on gun claims," March 26, 2013
PolitiFact, "Barack Obama says, 'The NRA used to support expanded background checks.'" April 18, 2013
Politifact, "Do majority of NRA members support background checks for guns?" Feb. 27, 2018
Email correspondence with Stu Loeser, spokesman for Michael Bloomberg, Aug. 13, 2019
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