A demonstrator from CodePink holds up a banner as National Rifle Association Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre delivers remarks during a news conference at the Willard Hotel December 21, 2012 in Washington, DC. This is the first public appearance that leaders of the gun rights group have made since a 20-year-old man used a popular assault-style rifle to slaughter 20 school children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, one week ago. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The country’s most powerful gun rights lobbying group has reversed its decade-old stance on requiring instant background checks for people buying guns at gun shows.

“We think it’s reasonable to provide mandatory instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show,” Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, said in 1999 after the Columbine High School shooting in suburban Denver. “No loopholes anywhere for anyone.”

But now, LaPierre says gun laws requiring background checks are ineffective at keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

“I do not believe the way the law is working now, unfortunately, that it does any good to extend the law to private sales between hobbyists and collectors,” LaPierre told the Senate Judiciary Committee last month.

LaPierre said the government needs to prosecute more people who try to illegally buy guns from licensed dealers. Without better enforcement of existing laws, he said, more background checks would only be a burden on law-abiding gun buyers.

LaPierre has also suggested that an expansion of background checks would lead to a national registry of gun owners

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.