Speaking to Philadelphia’s CBS affiliate, MacArthur, who represents New Jersey’s 3rd District, said background checks are “worthless” unless they are universal.
“If you are not doing the check on every gun transfer, what’s the point of it?” he said.
The 1994 Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act requires the federal background checks for federally-licensed gun dealers. But the law does not cover sales conducted through the Internet, private gun sales or at gun shows.
“It’s like taking my boat out with a perfectly sound hull except for four or five holes in it, that’s not a boat I’d want to be in the ocean in,” he said.
MacArthur is generally considered a moderate Republican, having previously led the Tuesday Group of centrist Republicans in the House. But MacArthur resigned after having a large hand in the House legislation to repeal the 2010 health care law last year.
Still, the statement is a shift for MacArthur, who had a 93 percent rating from the National Rifle Association in 2016, according to Vote Smart.
MacArthur also said he wants to see the Department of Justice to release a review of the federal database of the National Instant Background Check System created by the 1994 law.
The New Jersey Republican is set to have a fundraiser with President Donald Trump's White House counselor Kellyanne Conway this weekend.
Democrats are targeting MacArthur for his role in health care. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced his challenger Andy Kim would be part of its “Red to Blue” program.