Not the best take from the Fox News Sunday host here. Chris Wallace had some harsh things to say about former president Barak Obama’s speech at the DNC on Wednesday night, noting that Obama spent about a third of his speech talking about things other than his former running mate and the current Democratic presidential nominee, but Wallace’s analysis of the Democrats’ convention went off the rails when he turned to the topic of Joe Biden and gun control.
Earlier in the hour, Wallace praised an address by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords — whose husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, is seeking to unseat Sen. Martha McSally, R-Ariz., in November — as “enormously powerful” and called her “a living embodiment of the concern” most Americans have about gun violence.
“In a shopping center, some twisted nut to came up with a gun and shot her and then shot a number of other people as well,” Wallace said, recalling the 2011 mass shooting that killed six people and wounded 13 others, including Giffords.
“I understand that Republicans will say that Joe Biden wants to take away your Second Amendment rights,” Wallace added. “The only problem with that is, Biden has made it clear over and over [that] he’s not interested in taking away Second Amendment rights, he’s interested in taking away weapons of mass destruction like assault weapons.”
Yeesh. I hardly know where to begin here, but let’s start with Joe Biden and what he’s actually said about the Second Amendent. Wallace claims that Biden has “made it clear” that he’s not interested in taking away anyone’s Second Amendment rights. I think there’s a better case to be made that Biden simply believes that none of the gun control proposals of the Biden/Harris campaign violate the Second Amendment rights of Americans, because he doesn’t view the right to keep and bear arms as a real right in the first place. Reason magazine’s Jacob Sullum pointed out as much in a recent column.
“I respect the Second Amendment,” Biden insisted last March while arguing with a Detroit autoworker about gun control. But the evidence he offered was not exactly reassuring.
“I have a shotgun,” Biden said. “My sons hunt.” He notably omitted any mention of the right to self-defense, which the Supreme Court has recognized as the Second Amendment’s “central component,” or of handguns, which the justices described as the “quintessential self-defense weapon.”
In explaining his plan to ban “high-capacity magazines,” Biden also talks about hunting. “Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun,” his campaign says. “That means our federal law does more to protect ducks than children.”
The three-round limit suggested by that non sequitur would be unconstitutional, effectively banning all semi-automatic firearms and revolvers. But judging from an expired federal law that Biden supported, he would be more generous, allowing magazines with capacities up to 10 rounds — the same as the limit set by California, which made it a crime to manufacture, transfer, or even possess “large-capacity magazines.”
It’s easy for a politician to claim that their gun control laws are in line with the Second Amendment, but too few reporters ever actually bother to dig deeper and ask what exactly those politicians think the Second Amendment actually protects. Sure, Joe Biden has said that he’s not interested in taking away anyone’s right to keep and bear arms, but what does the Second Amendment mean to Joe Biden? We’ve already pointed out that Kamala Harris appears to believe the Second Amendment doesn’t protect an individual right to keep and bear arms. Maybe Chris Wallace can ask Joe Biden what he thinks the Second Amendment is all about the next time he interviews Biden from his basement.
As for Wallace’s assertion that modern sporting rifles are “weapons of mass destruction,” keep in mind that rifles of any kind, including AR-15s, are used in a small fraction of homicides and shootings every year. Between 2007 and 2017, nearly four times as many people were killed by someone wielding a knife than a rifle. If Chris Wallace is on board with the idea of banning our way to safety, why not ban knives? For that matter, why not ban handguns?
I’ve been writing about the Wallace family and their support for gun control for 15 years now. Back in 2005, Chris Wallace’s dad Mike actually hosted a fundraiser for the Brady Campaign at the French Embassy. I raised questions about Wallace’s emceeing a gun control event, and eventually Wallace wasn’t allowed to cover the gun control issue for 60 Minutes any longer. As I said at the time:
“He’s a trusted reporter, praised even by ‘conservatives’ like Bill O’Reilly as ‘the best American broadcaster in history.’ He’s had a long and distinguished at CBS News, winning 19 Emmy Awards, 3 Peabody Awards, and is in the Television Academy Hall of Fame. … I’ve got no problem with Mike Wallace having an opinion on an issue like gun control. I disagree with Wallace’s position on gun control, but he has a right to his opinion.”
Chris Wallace has that same right to his opinion, and thankfully he’s not hosted any gun control galas as far as I’m aware, but I believe his support for things like a ban on semi-automatic rifles has clouded his judgement about Joe Biden and his supposed support for the Second Amendment. Joe Biden wants to ban the most commonly sold rifle in the country. He wants to make it illegal to own the most commonly possessed ammunition magazines. He wants to encourage states to adopt restrictive gun licensing laws. He even believes the federal government should impose a one-size-fits-all storage law on all legal gun owners. Biden may say that all of those things can be done while still supporting the Second Amendment, but the only way that’s true is if he doesn’t think the Second Amendment protects a real individual right in the first place.