A Republican Congressman scoffed on Sunday at proposals popular with Americans that would strengthen background check system for purchasing guns, calling such moves little more than “putting lipstick on a pig.”
Representative Tom Massie (R-KY) seemed to suggest that the entire background check system was pointless.
“I wish that background checks stopped criminals or stopped school shootings but they don’t. They failed in Texas with the church shooting. They failed at Columbine,” the Kentucky lawmaker said.
In the aftermath of the horrific school shooting in Parkland, Florida, there has been a strong push for strengthening the federal background checks system, making it harder for people with criminal records or serious mental health problems to purchase deadly firearms.
A national poll by Quinnipiac University found that a remarkable 97% of Americans supported universal background checks. This includes the overwhelming majority of gun owners and NRA members.
But Kentucky Representative Tom Massie is apparently among the 3% who oppose background checks for all gun purchases.
Massie’s thinking, however, appears to be influential in the White House.
Last week, President Donald Trump, made controversial remarks in which he called for arming teachers in the classroom, which he said would be the most effective way to keep students safe. Trump called for arming 20 percent of school room teachers and staff, who would earn pay bonuses after passing firearms training. The suggestion has been broadly derided by actual teachers.
Earlier this year, Massie introduce the Safe Students Act, which would repeal a 1990 law making it unlawful for unauthorized individuals to carry a firearm in a school zone.
Massie blamed a failed background check system as the reason why emotionally troubled teens were able to carry out mass shootings in Columbine, Colorado in April 1999 and and the December 2012 elementary school shooting at Newtown, Connecticut.
“The shooter in Connecticut who stole his mother’s firearms and shot her before he committed the crime isn’t going to be stopped by a background check. Neither were the two perpetrators in Columbine that got other people to buy the guns for them,” Massie said.
But Massie rejected the idea, floated by moderator Chuck Todd, that failures of the background check system means the system should be improved, not scrapped.
“We’re not putting enough information in it. You’re trying to put lipstick on a pig,” he said on NBC television’s Meet the Press.
Trump has called for strengthening background checks and boosting the minimum age for the purchase of assault-style weapons, policies that are opposes by the NRA.
The Parkland shooting was carried out by a 19-year-old former student who was reported multiple times to the authorities, leaving 17 students and teachers dead.