Stupid Fact Check: Politifact Claims NRA Is ‘Mostly False’ Directly Quoting Hillary on Gun Confiscation
The latest installment of Stupid Fact Checks involves Politifact, the heavyweight champion of dishonest “fact checkers.” The web site’s clear mission is to make false leftist claims look credible while discrediting valid statements made by those on the center-right.
Early Monday morning, the web site criticized a flyer issued by the National Rifle Association which quoted Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. A year ago, Mrs. Clinton, responding to an audience member’s question, said that what Australia did in the mid-1990s to take guns away from many of its citizens “would be worth considering doing … on a national level, if that can be arranged” here in the U.S. Politifact Virginia’s Warren Fiske asserted that the NRA was “mostly false” in claiming that that she said “gun confiscation would be worth considering.” In other words, the NRA was “mostly false” in quoting Mrs. Clinton’s own words.
Fiske’s attempt at “logic” shows how deep he had to dive into dishonesty, with the help of the Clinton campaign, to come up with his evaluation (bolds are mine throughout this post):
NRA weakly claims that Clinton said gun confiscation is ‘worth considering’
A National Rifle Association flier … (asks) “What did Hillary Clinton say when she was asked about gun confiscation in America?” …
The flier answers the question with this Clinton quote: “I think it would be worth considering doing it on a national level, if that can be arranged.”
… during a town hall campaign event in Keene, N.H., on Oct 16, 2015 … (Mrs. Clinton) was asked whether she’d support a national gun buyback program similar to one Australia instituted in 1996 after a mass shooting in Tasmania left 35 dead.
A month later, Australia banned semi-automatic and self-loading rifles as well as shotguns. The government offered a one-year grace period during which it would buy back the firearms at fair-market prices. After that, people possessing the weapons would subject to strict penalties.
Fiske’s vague use of “penalties” masks what Australia’s 1996 National Firearms Act did. As the NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action wrote in a post on Monday: “Australia’s 1996 gun law was not voluntary. It was compulsory. Anyone found with an illegal or unregistered firearm was threatened with 10 years in prison.”
A “buyback” program that is compulsory, combined with a prospective ban on possession or sale of the guns involved, is correctly described as “confiscation with compensation.”
Thus, Hillary Clinton’s answer meant that she believes that confiscation with compensation “would be worth considering doing … on a national level.”
That should have been the end of it, and Fiske should have said, “Never mind. The NRA is right.”
Dream on. Fiske went to the cleanup crew in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign, which claimed that she didn’t say what she really said:
Three days after the New Hampshire event, the Clinton campaign said the candidate opposes gun confiscation and accused the NRA of distorting her comments.
“Of course Hillary does not support national mandatory gun buyback programs, including those modeled after Australia’s program,” spokesman Josh Schwerin wrote to us in an email. “She was discussing voluntary buyback programs, which are drastically different than what occurred in Australia and are regularly run by cities across the America.”
Mrs. Clinton was not discussing “voluntary buyback programs,” because she was discussing Australia, where the buyback program was not voluntary. The NRA was not “distorting” anything.
Fiske used Hillary spokesman Schwerin’s dishonest response to frame a bogus final evaluation:
… the NRA stretches her words to an almost unrecognizable form. Clinton focused her comments on voluntary buyback programs similar to those some U.S. communities have instituted for guns and the federal “cash-for-clunkers” program.
She was ambiguous about how a U.S. guns buyback program might be structured, saying “I don’t know enough details to tell you how we would do it or how it would work.” And her campaign since has said she opposes gun confiscation.
So there’s an element of truth to the NRA’s statement, but it ignores critical facts that would give a different impression. That makes it Mostly False.
Evaluations such as this explain why a claim that Politifact is the heavyweight champion of dishonest checkers is “Absolutely True.”
- At a mid-August fundraising event for Wisconsin Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Russ Feingold in California’s Silicon Valley, Feingold told undercover videographer James O’Keefe that “there might be (an) executive order” Mrs. Clinton would issue on gun control. The Feingold supporter hosting the event expressed a desire to “Shut it down,” which appears to refer to all gun ownership, and to “get guns away from everyone in this country.”
- An early October email contained in the WikiLeaks documents has Clinton Press Secretary Brian Fallon indicating that the scope of Mrs. Clinton’s executive orders would include “universal background checks … closing the gun show loophole by executive order and imposing manufacturer liability.” “Imposing liability” would almost certainly put gun manufacturers out of business.
- In May, a Clinton policy adviser told Bloomberg Politics that “Hillary Clinton believes a 2008 Supreme Court ruling that is the linchpin of an individual’s right to own a gun was “wrongly decided.” The core ruling in the Heller case was that the Constitution’s Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to keep and bear arms. If Mrs. Clinton believes that owning a gun is not an individual right, which certainly must be the case if she believes that Heller was “wrongly decided,” then the government ultimately has the right to prohibit individual gun ownership, and thus to confiscate guns from those who currently own them.
Politifact’s Fiske noted that the NRA wasn’t particularly responsive when asked for further comment:
We asked the NRA if it had any other evidence that it believes shows Clinton is open to gun confiscation. A spokeswoman for the gun group’s lobbying arm questioned whether that was “relevant” to our fact-check and didn’t provide an answer.
It’s hard to blame them. Though the NRA could have cited the second and third items just noted as further evidence, why waste time beyond a public rebuttal with someone won’t accept the meaning of plainly communicated words?
Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.