President Joe Biden spoke for more than an hour to a limited Joint Session of Congress for his first major speech since his inauguration. It was during a three-minute stretch near the end, though, that the president got plenty wrong about firearms, the Second Amendment and the record number of diverse Americans who purchased guns during the last 15 months.
No Matter How Many Times You Say It…
President Biden talks big about “taking on the NRA.”
“I’ve done before and I’ll do it again,” he repeats again and again. “In the 90s we passed universal background checks. A ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines that hold a hundred rounds…that can be fired off in seconds. We beat the NRA. Mass shootings and gun violence declined. Check out the report over ten years.”
According to the CDC report, the “Assault Weapons Ban (AWB), which also restricted magazine capacity, did not reduce crime rates.” The kicker is that since the 10-year-ban expired in 2004, the violent crime rate in America dropped steadily while ownership of modern sporting rifles (MSRs) rose dramatically. Today there are more than 20 million MSRs in circulation.
Making It Up as He Goes
President Biden referenced his Rose Garden gun control executive actions, including banning so-called “ghost guns.” “Anyone from a criminal or terrorist could buy one of these kits and within 30 minutes have a weapon that’s lethal,” the president claimed.
These so-called “ghost guns” are unfinished firearms and the unassembled parts that are popular with hobbyists and gunsmiths. They have been legal since before the founding of our country. They are time-consuming and expensive to assemble and they’ve become a gun control calling card especially for certain blue state governors.
Again, the president is on the wrong side of the data, which shows there is no evidence that ghost guns are commonly used by criminals to commit their crimes.
But President Biden wasn’t done stretching the truth.
“I don’t want to become confrontational, but we need more Senate Republicans to join the overwhelming majority of Democratic colleagues and close the loopholes on background check purchases of guns.”
Fact-checkers, including even CNN and the Politifact, recently called out the president’s false claims of background checks at gun shows. Every firearm transfer from a licensed retailer, whether at a store, gun show or initiated online, must be completed in a face-to-face transaction, signed background check forms and a verification through the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).
Wrong on Facts, Wrong on the People
President Biden’s address to the American people lasted more than 60 minutes but in the three minutes he spoke about firearms, he got a lot wrong. He’s also wrong on what the American people want.
“I think this is not a Democrat or Republican issue. This is an American issue,” the president said while urging Congress to pass more gun control. But the people have spoken.
More than 21 million people from diverse backgrounds passed a NICS check to purchase a firearm in 2020, including more than 8.4 million first-time buyers. The pace hasn’t slowed so far in 2021 either and public interest in more gun control has dropped dramatically over the past several months, to the lowest levels in years.
On firearms, President Biden needs to get his facts straight and get a better read on what the American people want.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.