True
Bloomberg
"If you go back, you can see Wayne LaPierre, who runs the NRA, testifying in front of Congress in favor of background checks 15 or 20 years ago."

Michael Bloomberg on Sunday, August 11th, 2019 in an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation"

Bloomberg correct that NRA’s Wayne LaPierre once supported background checks

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."

Related: "Do majority of NRA members support background checks for guns?"

Bloomberg made almost the exact same claim about LaPierre’s testimony in 2013. Former President Barack Obama did, too

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."

Our ruling

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.