The Slatest

Franklin Graham Appears to Walk Back Support For Universal Background Checks on Eve of NRA Appearance

Graham at an event in Haiti with Sarah Palin.

Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images

Franklin Graham is Billy’s son and a major figure in the evangelical world. Given the general conservatism of evangelical Christians, it was big news last year when Graham said he supported universal background checks on gun buyers. Now Graham is making an appearance at the NRA’s ongoing annual meeting in Indianapolis—he’ll lead Sunday’s prayer breakfast—and some gun activists have wondered if he would make a point of mentioning his support for background checks. Per a just-posted note on his Facebook wall, it sounds like the answer is no:

It’s a little opaque, but appears to read as a “walk-back” of his previously reported stance on the issue; i.e., if God has already checked everyone, there’s no need for the government to do so as well. We’ve put in a request for comment with Graham’s representatives and will update the post if we hear from them.

Update, Friday, April 25, 5:15 p.m.: Franklin Graham’s spokesperson writes with a statement from Graham. Here it is in full:

“I support background checks for the purchase of firearms, but the term universal seems to be a moving target and changes every time lawmakers propose new legislation. Not even the current background check system is working. It hinders, and in some cases, stops the sale of legitimate gun purchases by law-abiding citizens.
I have had first hand experience recently with a close friend who, for no reason, was denied the opportunity to purchase a shotgun. He had to come back to the gun store several times over the course of two days before the purchase was finally approved.
The government doesn’t seem to be able to do background checks in a fair and timely manner and if given the opportunity for a universal background check, I’m concerned that the government could abuse that system.”