The fact-checking industry has a gold mine in its hands with Joe Biden. In fact, it might have to work overtime just to cover Biden’s gun-control event today at the White House. It started off with Biden appointing David Chipman to lead the, er, American Federation of Teachers. Did Randi Weingarten step down?
We should be so lucky:
“I’m proud to nominate David Chipman for the director of the A.F.T.
David knows the A.F.T. well” 🤣🤣🤣 pic.twitter.com/mlqf7Vv8OO
— Oilfield Rando (@Oilfield_Rando) April 8, 2021
Biden’s nominating Chipman to run the ATF, not the AFT — a distinction that a man who’s worked in Washington for a half-century should grasp. Biden says “AFT” twice in this introduction, which makes this just a skosh more than a momentary slip-up … but to be fair, not much more. Chipman himself is much more problematic as the new director, as our colleague Katie Pavlich explained yesterday:
For years Chipman served as a senior policy advisor and spokesperson for the Giffords gun control organization and Michael Bloomberg’s anti-Second Amendment apparatus. Both aggressively advocate for the federal government to ban the most commonly owned firearms in the United States.
During his time as an ATF special agent, Chipman worked on the Branch Davidian trial after the government — specifically ATF and FBI — botched a raid in Waco, Texas. Bad decisions made by federal agents ultimately resulted in the deaths of 76 people, including pregnant women and dozens of children.
More problematically, Chipman already has a record of demagoguery on gun-control issues. That includes spreading misinformation about the Waco siege, the Daily Caller reported late last night:
Chipman, who posted a photograph on the Reddit thread confirming his identity, commented on the Waco siege in response to a question from a participant who asked whether any crimes have been committed with .50 caliber Barrett rifles, which can be accurate up to thousands of feet from their target.
Chipman wrote: “At Waco, cult members used 2 .50 caliber Barretts to shoot down two Texas Air National Guard helicopters. Point, it is true we are fortunate they are not used in crime more often. The victims of drug lords in Mexico are not so lucky. America plays a role in fueling the violence south of the border.”
While the Branch Davidians did reportedly shoot at and damage a trio of helicopters that were flown over their compound, none were shot down, and no federal agents were injured.
That claim might be worth a fact check or two from media outlets, but that doesn’t necessarily relate to Biden. It’s likely to make a big difference to Senate Republicans who will be part of Chipman’s confirmation process, however, and it might even create some hesitancy among pro-2A Senate Democrats. (There’s Joe Manchin, and … er … Joe Manchin …)
The rest of Biden’s appearance is tailor-made for fact-checking. In announcing his new gun-control initiatives, Biden insisted that they don’t intrude on constitutional rights — and then set up a series of straw men to substantiate that claim:
“Nothing I’m about to recommend in any way impinges on the Second Amendment,” Biden said. “They’re phony arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights in what we’re talking about.”
Biden added that “no amendment to the Constitution is absolute. You can’t yell ‘fire’ in a crowded movie theater and call it freedom of speech. From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own. From the very beginning of the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons.”
As David Harsanyi explains, just about everything Biden said is false, including the the and the and. No one claims that the Second Amendment is absolute and unlimited, and you actually can yell “fire” in a crowded theater — or more to the point, prior restraint can’t be placed on it:
The line, taken from Oliver Wendell Holmes’ decision in Schenck v. United States and subsequently repeated by thousands of censorship apologists since, was at the heart of one of the most egregious violations of free expression in American history. The Schenck decision allowed the Wilson administration to throw anti-war activists into prison for violating the Espionage Act of 1917. It’s difficult to think of a more legitimate exercise of political expression than debating war and peace. In any event, Schenck was basically overturned by the Brandenburg v. Ohio decision, which found that the First Amendment protects speech unless it is likely to incite “imminent lawless action,” which yelling “fire in a theater” does not.
As for gun restrictions being part of the American legal landscape “from the beginning,” that’s not true either. The only restrictions on firearms were those targeted at particular populations, and weren’t federal either. It wasn’t until weapons evolved in a particular manner that the federal government got involved:
I can’t even begin to imagine what rickety basis there is for making such a claim. I mean, I wrote a book on the history of American guns, and never once did I run across any law that restricted Americans from owning any weapons they desired (unless we’re talking about blacks or Indians; because most gun restrictions in U.S. history have been employed to unarm the people who need weapons most). The idea of the federal government conducting any kind domestic “gun policy” whatsoever would have been a completely alien concept to anyone before the 1930s. Even then, no specific types of guns were banned from use. It wasn’t really until 1986 that that fully automatic guns were effectively banned by the federal government.
Even that isn’t a complete ban, either. It’s possible to get a license to own a fully automatic weapon, but the requirements are so overwhelming that most people will never come close to qualifying for that license. Besides, even if the Constitution allows some limited restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms, arguing that this means Biden’s restrictions pass constitutional muster is a fallacy.
Speaking of fallacies …
BIDEN: “You go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want–no background check.” pic.twitter.com/TbvfDPEwlp
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) April 8, 2021
That’s simply not true, and has been repeatedly debunked. There’s nothing special about gun shows; sales there follow the same rules as elsewhere. Any sale involving a commercial seller requires a background check. Sales between two private individuals do not (except in states that require it), regardless of whether that takes place at a gun show or someone’s living room.
So when will we see media outlets other than conservative platforms like ours and National Review do some fact checking? I’d guess the twelfth of never when it comes to gun-control claims, given how popular those policies are among the progressive elites that run those outlets. Three months into the Biden era, the only mainstream media outlet showing any interest at all in that function is the Washington Post, and who knows when their editors will tire of crossing the White House?
At least these outlets can take on the 21,000-mph plane … right? Right?