As Congress tries to fix the nation’s broken background-check system, the National Rifle Association is playing a new role: political pragmatist, McClatchy Newspapers reports. The gun lobby is supporting an effort backed by Democrats, Republicans and gun-control advocates to fix the system that allowed the shooter at a Sutherland Springs, Tx., church last month to obtain a gun. The NRA argues that the fix helps law-abiding citizens get guns more easily while keeping them out of the hands of criminals. A pending bill aims to improve the background-check system by penalizing federal agencies that fail to report records to the system and increasing federal funding for reporting domestic violence records. The South Texas shooter killed 26 people with a firearm he had purchased after passing a background check, despite multiple military and domestic violence complaints.
Support for the bill puts the NRA in the company of gun-control groups that call the move a modest step in keeping guns out of the hands of criminals. It pits the group against some members of the gun-rights community who want to use the Texas incident to attack the background-check system as a whole. Those groups have been urging allies in Congress to reject the fix, even when it’s combined with gun-rights expansion efforts. The NRA applauds the bill for giving people who were wrongly entered into the system a way to appeal more quickly. When the House approved its version of the bill this month, Gun Owners of America urged members to vote against it. “We’re very concerned that more law-abiding people are going to be thrown into the NICS system,” said Erich Pratt of Gun Owners of America. “It’s a broken system. We don’t want to fix it; [we] want to fix it for good by repealing it.”