How badly does a Democrat presidential candidate have to “mis-speak” about guns in the US for a big time legacy media operation to call them on it? Pretty badly. Last night, the misinformation was flowing freely at the latest Democrat 2020 presidential debate.
It was so bad, in fact, that the Associated Press (of all outlets) found it necessary to fact check some of the candidates’ claims. That’s the kind of treatment usually reserved for right-of-center politicians.
But don’t give the AP too much credit. They only called out a couple of gun-related claims because — as the they sees it — the reality makes a stronger case for more gun control.
First it was Mayor Pete and someone named Amy Klobuchar (who’s so nondescript that the AP garbled her name). Their statements unduly raised hopes that one of the Democrats most desired goals is close at hand.
PETE BUTTIGIEG: “On guns, we are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge.”
AMY KLOCHUBAR (sic): “I just keep thinking of how close we are to finally getting something done on this.”
THE FACTS: No, the U.S. is not close to enacting an assault-weapons ban, as Buttigieg claimed, nor close on any significant gun control, as Klobuchar had it. Congress is not on the verge of such legislation. Prospects for an assault-weapons ban, in particular, are bound to remain slim until the next election at least.
Legislation under discussion in the Senate would expand background checks for gun sales, a politically popular idea even with gun owners. But even that bill has stalled because of opposition from the National Rifle Association and on-again, off-again support from Trump. Democrats and some Republicans in Congress say they will continue to push for the background checks bill, but movement appears unlikely during an impeachment inquiry and general dysfunction in Congress. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he won’t move forward on gun legislation without Trump’s strong support.
Buttigieg was citing the chance for an assault-weapons ban as a reason for not supporting the more radical proposal by Democratic presidential rival Beto O’Rourke to force gun owners to give up AR-15s and other assault-style weapons. Klobuchar spoke in a similar context.
That’s right. There was never a chance for a new “assault weapons” ban, except maybe in the fevered dreams of the most radically anti-gun Democrats.
Any chance that Trump could have been convinced to stumble into support for expanded background checks or a bill to incent more states to enact “red flag” laws likely died with the impeachment push. Just an unintended consequence of the never-ending #resistance.
As for those assault-y looking guns in civilian hands . . .
KAMALA HARRIS: “Five million assault weapons are on the streets of America today.”
THE FACTS: The California senator’s statistic on the number of AR- and AK-style firearms is not accurate. Even the gun industry estimates there are now 16 million “assault weapons” in circulation in the United States today. In 1994, President Bill Clinton enacted an assault weapons ban, at a time when there were an estimated 1.5 million of them in circulation. Current owners were allowed to keep them, however, and once the ban expired a decade later, sales resumed and boomed.
Correct again. The most frequently cited number for Diane Feinstein’s least favorite firearms in civilian hands is usually somewhere between 15 and 17 million. No one knows the exact number, but it’s likely north of 20 million.
So like so many things gun-related, Kamala Harris is woefully misinformed.