Why Do Democrats Get Away With Lying About Guns?
David Harsanyi
By

When Carly Fiorina offered some imprecise words about videos that uncovered the harvesting of body parts, she was subjected to weeks of semantic, nitpicky fact-checking that allowed Democrats and the media to portray her accurate characterization of Planned Parenthood’s practices as an outright “lie.”

Now, it would be a waste of time to expect comparable scrutiny aimed at Democrats who make unequivocally false statements about guns—a topic that elicits similarly emotional responses. But, for credibility’s sake, it’d be nice if once in a while someone would call out the president, or leading Democratic Party candidates, or the countless others who lie about firearms.

President Obama, who not long ago made the ludicrous claim that in certain neighborhoods it was “easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable,” now says, “It’s not just mass shootings. It is the daily shootings that take place in cities across America. It is easier to buy a gun than buy a book.”

Does anyone in the media believe it’s easier to purchase a Glock than it is a carrot or a book? Probably. I mean, why isn’t there a slew of concerned CNN panels parsing this fantastical statement—or the many others Obama makes about guns?

The president is supposedly referring to the lack of bookstores in low-income areas, but surely it isn’t the case there, either. Books can be purchased or borrowed through schools, libraries, community centers, bookstores, Wal-Marts, Targets, many supermarkets, and, most importantly, through something called the Internet—that not only allows you to download books almost instantaneously, but also allows you to buy used copies at very low prices.  Let’s put it this way: even if you can’t afford books, they are surely far cheaper than any gun you could buy—even if guns were, as so many liberals incorrectly claim, something that can be picked off the shelf without any ID and walked home.

Yet folks like Virginia Gov. Terry McCauliffe regularly assert, as he did at a DC rally a couple of weeks ago, that it’s easier to buy a gun than beer in Virginia, because you have to provide ID to purchase alcoholic beverages. McAuliffe also claimed that gun shows have booths with signs that say “no background checks.” As my colleague Sean Davis has pointed out, the federal government has the statutory authority to define who does and does not qualify as an individual “in the business of selling firearms.” Since 1938, every gun dealer in the U.S. has been required to obtain a federal firearm license—whether they sell it in a gun shop, or a gun show, or from a shack in somebody’s backyard. (In some states, a private party firearm transfer between two residents of the same state is permissible without having to process the transaction through a federally licensed dealer.)

When this kind of thing goes uncorrected by media, it begins filtering into the ether and millions of Americans begin to believe it. Take CNN, which was hoping to pump up ratings for the Democratic Party debate yesterday by having celebrities ask the candidates questions.

Here is actress and comedian Judy Gold’s entry:

A few months ago, I sent my 13-year-old son out to pick me up some Mucinex and Nyquil. The pharmacist wouldn’t give them to him because he’s under 16. Why is it easier for him to get a gun than to pick up medicine for his sick mom?

Maybe nanny-state, regulation-happy politicians should stop intruding into every aspect of American life, and kids would be able to buy medicine for their mommies without worry. But in California, and I’m just guessing that’s where Gold lives (if we’re talking about New York City, the process for buying a gun is even more difficult) a person must be at least 18 years of age to purchase a rifle or shotgun and 21 years of age to purchase a handgun. A 13-year-old would never be able to buy a gun legally.

An adult would have to submit a Personal Firearms Eligibility Check application, along with a copy of her California driver’s license or a similar ID card to make sure they are eligible. That already makes it a lot trickier to buy a gun than to purchase Nyquil. The application needs to be notarized and must include an impression of your right thumbprint—which makes getting a gun, a right explicitly guaranteed by the Constitution, more difficult than it is to vote (one that is not). It can take up to 120 days for the state to get back to you. If you are eligible, there is the background check and a 10-day waiting period.

When this kind of thing goes uncorrected by media, it begins filtering into the ether and millions of Americans begin to believe it.

You might not ever know this if you listened to the Democratic debate on Tuesday or any of the commentary afterwards. When the candidates weren’t advocating that gun manufacturers be held accountable for every crazy person who uses a firearm for nefarious purposes, or blaming the National Rifle Association rather than the millions of people who support the Second Amendment, nearly every candidate repeated some egregious falsehood about guns. Most of the candidates spoke about “common sense” gun regulations.

Perhaps the Democrats were confused. There is no gun show loophole. There are straw purchases, which have been federal felonies since 1968. I understand that perpetuating these myths is necessary for liberals to create the impression that we need more laws, but the Fourth Estate—which, it’s probably safe to say, generally views the presence of guns as an unholy part of American life—has a responsibility to correct these wild exaggerations and untruths. Yet they rarely do.

David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist. He is the author of the new book, First Freedom: A Ride Through America's Enduring History with the Gun, From the Revolution to Today. Follow him on Twitter.

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