I’ve noticed a definite trend among the so-called fact-checkers deployed to combat misinformation regarding the Biden/Harris campaign, particularly when it comes to the Second Amendment; they’re leaving out a few salient facts of their own, and often are basing their fact check on a dubious premise to begin with.
The latest example of this comes from Snopes, which answers a question that no one is asking; Does Biden Want To Abolish The Second Amendment?
No one is claiming that Biden is going to try to pass a constitutional amendment wiping the Second Amendment from the constitution itself, but that’s exactly the angle that Snopes pursues, allowing them to proclaim that the Democratic presidential candidate just wants to pass a few gun safety measures which will still “respect the Second Amendment, which is limited.”
Our search did not reveal a specific point in time when Biden said that he wanted to abolish the Second Amendment. In fact, we found several incidents where Biden denied wanting to abolish the amendment in its entirety. As part of his 2020 campaign, the presidential hopeful did outline a plan to end the “gun violence epidemic,” which included several policies aimed at reducing the accessibility of firearms such as implementing universal background checks on those who intend to purchase a gun, as well as instituting buy-back programs for assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other measures.
“It’s within our grasp to end our gun violence epidemic and respect the Second Amendment, which is limited. As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies,” noted the plan, which can be viewed in its entirety here.
I’m not aware of anyone claiming that Biden has declared he’s going to abolish the Second Amendment via a constitutional amendment. The argument is that Biden’s gun control agenda would destroy the protections offered by the Second Amendment, which as Snopes itself points out, is “limited” anyway according to the Biden campaign.
In their fact check, Snopes ignores the fact that Joe Biden himself said during a 2019 televised town hall in New Hampshire that he believes the Supreme Court wrongly decided the Heller case, and that if he were on the bench he would have ruled differently. Of course Heller is the case in which the Court declared that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to keep and bear arms unrelated to service in a militia, and if Biden believes that SCOTUS erred in its opinion, it’s fair to assume that he doesn’t believe the Second Amendment protects an individual right.
Snopes, however, presents the issue as undecided and up for interpretation, even as they ignore Biden’s own remarks.
The Second Amendment is one of 10 within the U.S. Constitution that comprises the Bill of Rights. It reads that “a well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” Interpretation of its scope has come under fire in the last century, with gun advocates arguing for what is known as “individual right theory,” which means that the language in the Second Amendment restricts legislative bodies from prohibiting firearm possession and renders any regulation or prohibition unconstitutional, according to the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. Those in favor of stricter gun legislation, on the other hand, abide under the “collective rights theory,” which argues that the Second Amendment does not grant an individual the right to possess guns and that legislative bodies have the authority to regulate firearms without infringing on a constitutional right.
Snopes’ description of the “individual right theory” is wrong as well. While some gun owners and Second Amendment advocates believe that any and all gun laws are unconstitutional, in the Heller case the Supreme Court declared that some long-standing gun control laws could indeed withstand judicial scrutiny and survive a Second Amendment challenge. Why though did Snopes lay out the “collective rights theory” without pointing out that Joe Biden has alluded to that being his own position?
Since the issue isn’t whether Biden would use the process of amending the Constitution to officially abolish the Second Amendment, but whether his gun control plans would amount to the destruction of the individual right to keep and bear arms, you’d think that a real fact-check would take a look at how Biden’s gun control proposals would impact the individual right to keep and bear arms.
Of course Snopes doesn’t even attempt to address that question, because if they did, they’d have to acknowledge that under Biden’s plan, tens of millions of gun owners would be turned into criminals if they didn’t hand over their banned firearms and magazines to the federal government or pay a hefty tax to maintain possession of the arms they currently legally own.
They would also have to acknowledge that under Biden’s gun control laws, possession of any so-called assault weapon or large capacity magazine not registered with the government under the National Firearms Act could result in a federal felony charge punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Instead they simply conclude that “Biden has never called for abolishing the Second Amendment. Moreover, under the U.S. Constitution, abolishing an amendment requires two-thirds approval in Congress and ratification by three-quarters of states. Though Biden’s proposed administration could push for an overhaul of the Second Amendment, that power is not vested in the president alone.”
An “overhaul” of the Second Amendment that guts the individual right to keep and bear arms and turns it into a privilege to be doled out by the government is just abolition by another name. Once again the so-called fact checkers seem to be more interested in providing cover to the Biden campaign than providing real facts to voters.