NRA Background Check Reversal Explained By Former NRA President

02/01/2013 12:14 pm ET | Updated Feb 01, 2013

WASHINGTON -- A former president of the National Rifle Association said Thursday that the gun lobby reversed its support for universal background checks because the check system doesn't work well enough.

"Yes, the NRA has changed its position," Sandy Froman, the organization's former president, told CNN. "And the reason its changed its position is because the system doesn't work. The [background check system] is not working now. We have to get that working before we can add any more checks to that system." Froman was president of the NRA from 2005 to 2007 and currently sits on the board of directors.

Recent polls indicate massive public support for universal background checks for gun purchases, including those by private sellers at gun shows who are currently exempt from mandated checks.

Froman's response is similar to the one NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre gave the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday when he was asked why he said in 1999 that expanded background checks were "reasonable," but fourteen years later is against them. LaPierre said the NRA opposes universal background checks because criminals "will never abide by them," and because the Obama administration has not prosecuted people who attempt to purchase guns, but are rejected.

Froman said the NICS system can't handle more checks. "It's already overburdened," she said. "Let's get it working. Let's make sure the 23 states that aren't reporting the names of people who are mentally ill and have violent tendencies, let's get those reported and into the system, and then we can take a look."

Froman's argument failed to satisfy Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "I don't understand why you can't do both," Gross told CNN host Anderson Cooper. "The reality is -- yes, regarding the 60 percent of gun sales that require background checks, are there things that we can do to improve that? Yes. Should we be committed to it, should we invest resources in it? Yes."

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