Politics

NRA, Pro-Gun Lawmaker Exchange Fire Over New Bill

Kentucky GOP Rep. Massie says bill, which NRA supports, advances Obama’s agenda

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., is at odds with the NRA over his criticism of a bill that seeks to address deficiencies in the national gun background check database. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie butted heads with the National Rifle Association Thursday over a new bill in Congress that addresses deficiencies in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), the database of people who are not allowed to buy firearms in America.

The NRA, which has given more than $4,500 to Massie’s campaigns, said on its website the congressman was spreading misinformation about the bipartisan bill.

Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas has sponsored the legislation alongside Democratic Sens. Chris Murphy of Connecticut and Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York.

The bill creates financial incentives for law enforcement to prevent guns from being sold to people with disqualifying criminal or mental histories. It also re re-emphasizes the need for federal and state agencies to upload these histories to the NICS so that Federal Firearms Licensees can check instantly whether a prospective buyer is qualified to purchase a gun.

Congress renewed interest in strengthening NICS and its feeder requirements after it was discovered that the gunman in the mass shooting at a church in Southerland Springs, Texas, obtained guns after a 2014 domestic violence conviction because the Air Force did not properly report  the case. The conviction should have barred him from gun ownership.

Massie, a staunch pro-gun advocate, said in a Dec. 2 Facebook post that the legislation is an extension of former President Barack Obama’s anti-gun agenda because it “[pressures] every branch of the administration (such as the Veteran’s Administration) to submit thousands of more names to the NICS background check database to deny gun purchases.”

The NRA said on its website that Massie’s post contains misleading information.

Watch: 10 Years of Congressional Efforts on Gun Control

The bill does not expand disqualifications for gun ownership, the powerful gun lobbying group said. Rather, it simply requires that federal agencies submit the names of criminal offenders or people with mental health circumstances that disqualify them from owning a firearm.

“This differs from former President Obama’s efforts, in which he attempted to administratively create new categories of individuals who were prohibited from possessing a firearm,” the NRA web page says.

Massie is the only member of Congress the NRA has called out for withholding support from the bill.

“It’s an odd day in Washington, D.C., when the NRA supports legislation backed by Sens. (Diane) Feinstein and Schumer,” Massie told the Louisville Courier-Journal.

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