NRA Supported Universal Background Checks After Columbine Massacre
WASHINGTON -- In May of 1999, under intense pressure following the Columbine High School massacre, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre told Congress that the gun lobby supported instant background checks at gun shows. On Wednesday, back before the Senate Judiciary Committee following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, LaPierre uncomfortably withdrew his support for universal background checks.
LaPierre seemed a bit flustered this week under questioning by the senators for good reason. The NRA's earlier support for instant background checks was not just a line that LaPierre read to the Judiciary Committee 14 years ago. It was part of an advertising and public relations campaign that the NRA organized following the Columbine massacre to show it was sympathetic to changing gun laws, according to documents and interviews by The Huffington Post.
The message of the NRA's 1999 campaign was "Be Reasonable," and the organization bought ads in top newspapers, including USA Today, The Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal, to make its case.
"We believe it's reasonable to provide for instant background checks at gun shows, just like gun stores and pawn shops," the USA Today ad reads.