Fact-checking is an odd sort of art. I’m often amazed at the contortions some so-called fact-checkers go through in order to demonize their opponents and to shield their allies.
Now, I’m sure some fact-checkers are really trying to do it right. I’m sure there are honest mistakes made in good faith by these individuals.
Well, the Associated Press offered up a fact-check regarding the Democratic debate earlier this week. Of particular interest was their fact check on gun control and just how wrong it is.
PETE BUTTIGIEG: “On guns, we are this close to an assault weapons ban. That would be huge.”
AMY KLOCHUBAR: “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.
The problem with this take, however, is that the term “close” is subjective.
I hate to agree with Buttigieg for the second day in a row, but he’s not really wrong. An assault weapon ban already has enough co-sponsors to all but guarantee its passage in the House. There are those who think it would pass a straight-up vote in the Senate–and I can’t say definitively that they’re wrong–and that even the president might sign it.
These are all a far cry from just two years ago when, even after the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history took place in Las Vegas, there wasn’t a hope in hell of a new assault weapon ban. It looked like those who despise the AR-15 so vehemently were just out of luck, even after the massacre.
I’m sorry, but I think that warrants the term “close.”
Frankly, we’re down to the wire at the moment. The 2020 elections are the most important elections in history when it comes to gun rights, and I’m not being hyperbolic. A Republican loss of the Senate and/or White House would be a devastating blow for gun rights and gun rights advocates, effectively gutting the only real bulwark we’ve had against rampant federal gun control.
We lose any of it and we will see an assault weapon ban. Depending on how severe a ban, we may also see a civil war. That’s something no one should want to see, that’s for sure.
Yet if Republicans hold what they have or, better yet, retake the House, the threat dissipates. We no longer have to worry nearly as much about the federal hammer dropping on our Second Amendment rights.
Frankly, to say that an assault weapon ban isn’t close to coming to fruition is one of two things. It’s either a fact-checker simply not accepting someone else’s definition of close or it’s a partisan hack trying to keep the other side from feeling threatened so they won’t rally even harder to fight back.