Analysis

Fact-Checkers Rush To Defend, Downplay Joe Biden’s ‘Gun Show Loophole’ Claims

Say his false claim is "half-true," "exaggerated"

   DailyWire.com
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Biden announced a set of executive actions to curb gun violence, urging Congress to adopt stricter laws and rebutting arguments that his new measures impinge on Americans' second amendment rights.
Yuri Gripas/Abaca/Bloomberg via Getty Images

In a speech at the White House on Thursday, Joe Biden announced further executive actions on the subject of gun control, saying, “Enough prayers, time for some action.” During the event, Biden parroted the false “gun show loophole” claim which is routinely promoted by gun control advocates. Left-leaning fact-checkers quickly moved to provide cover for the president.

“These bills, one, require background checks for anyone purchasing a gun at a gun show, or an online sale,” Biden said. “Most people don’t know it, you walk into a store and you buy a gun, you have a background check. But you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want, and no background check.”

The Daily Wire correctly reported that this statement is a “falsehood”:

Federally licensed gun sellers are required, by law, to run background checks on all firearm purchases, whether at a gun show or in their gun store.

Unlicensed private individuals are permitted to sell guns without running a background check, but this is the case regardless of their location.

However, prominent fact-checking organizations responded differently, either ignoring the statements completely or rushing to soften criticism of Joe Biden’s claims by describing them as “misleading,” “exaggerations” or “misstatements.” 

In response to Biden’s words, PolitiFact tweeted, “You go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want, and no background check. NEW: In today’s gun policy address, President Biden exaggerated about background checks at gun shows.” PolitiFact rated the statement as “mostly” false.

In the report, Louis Jacobson and Amy Sherman write, “In gun policy address, Joe Biden exaggerates about background checks at gun shows.” In their conclusion, they wrote, “This is overstated. If you go to a gun show and buy a firearm from a federally licensed seller, you will have to pass a background check, just as if you went to a bricks-and-mortar gun store. You would only escape a background check at a gun show if you bought from a seller who isn’t federally licensed.”

The New York Times published an analysis, with the title “A fact-check of Biden’s guns speech reveals some inaccuracies.”

Linda Qiu, a “fact-check reporter” who moved to The New York Times from PolitiFact, deemed Biden’s background check statement to be “exaggerated.”

The Washington Post’s fact-checkers didn’t even go as far as to agree that Biden’s statement was false, suggesting, “Whether this statement is misleading depends on how you hear Biden’s words.”

“Still, Biden’s phrasing can leave the impression that no background checks are required at gun shows. Our colleagues at PolitiFact labeled Biden’s statement as ‘mostly false.’ We would lean more toward ‘half true,’ (i.e., Two Pinocchios) given how Biden’s statement could be misinterpreted,” the Washington Post fact-checkers concluded.

To their credit, FactCheck.org did conclude that Biden’s claim was false, writing, “Biden falsely said that ‘you can buy whatever you want’ at a gun show with ‘no background check.’ Federal firearm dealers at gun shows must run background checks. Private sales between nondealers are exempt from federal law.” In a similar fashion to others, however, they downplayed this falsehood, saying that Biden “misstated the facts” on existing policies.

Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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