AP Photo/Keith Srakocic
FactCheck.Org exists, in theory, to prevent misinformation. It’s supposed to help people differentiate between fact and fiction, the counter to fake news.
Unfortunately, many on the Right feel it has an inherent left-leaning bias. That may well be true. After all, it does occasionally seem to give the Left’s ideas a bit more leeway than the Right.
Recently, it took aim at a meme that argued a new bill would create a gun registry.
A viral meme falsely accuses five House Republicans of voting with Democrats to create a “firearms registry.” The bill in question specifically prohibits “the establishment, directly or indirectly, of a national firearms registry.”
A gun control bill that passed the House 240-190 earlier this year was largely shepherded by Democrats, who assumed control of the chamber in January.
And while the GOP-controlled Senate is unlikely to consider the bill, the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, or H.R. 8, did receive “yea” votes from eight House Republicans, five of whom were co-sponsors of the legislation.
A viral meme that was posted to Facebook in May, and that is making the rounds again, accuses those five co-sponsors of joining Democrats “to institute a firearms registry.”
First of all, federal law, including the Firearms Owners’ Protection Act of 1986, currently forbids the U.S. from creating a national registry. And the House bill states that “[n]othing in this Act, or any amendment made by this Act, shall be construed to … authorize the establishment, directly or indirectly, of a national firearms registry.”
The bill would expand the scenarios in which a background check is required for the sale or transfer of a firearm. While current federal law requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on prospective buyers, the bill would also require background checks before a private sale or transfer between unlicensed individuals, such as some sales at a gun show or online. A number of states already have similar policies in place.
Except, it kind of would.
Now, FactCheck.Org does note that there are some key exceptions. Mostly things like gifts to family members and loans of firearms. However, the bill requires that all transfers not covered by those exceptions be handled like a new firearm sale. In other words, the recipient would have to fill out a Form 4473 and undergo a NICS check.
That’s not a registration, right?
Well, it kind of is.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a very good registration and not a particularly useful one, but that doesn’t mean it’s not one in essence, regardless of what the bill says.
Once every firearm sale has a Form 4473 to go along with it, it’s only a matter of time before every gun not on the black market has a paper trail associated with it. That’s a registry.
After all, it still allows the government to find out who owns what guns. It might not be an efficient way to do it, but it can still be done. All it would take is a law requiring Form 4473’s to be centrally stored and guess what you have? Yet that law would also be argued to not create a registry either.
Now, am I saying that’s what the meme creator intended? Honestly, I have no idea. It wasn’t me or anyone I know, so I don’t have a clue. However, that doesn’t mean there’s not a valid point to be made in that meme either, whether purposefully or by accident.
The question is, does FactCheck.Org even realize this? Is it malicious, or just clueless?