WaPo Fact Check: Obama Lied About Rules Being Different for Internet Gun Sales

In MSM speak, he "erred."

The Washington Post's Fact Checker assessed President Obama's claim made during his tearful speech on gun control when he said that the rules for buying a gun over the Internet is different than buying one in person.

The final score? Two Pinocchios. (That means it was "half true," according to their scale.)

"Obama erred," states the Post, which is a nice way of saying he lied.

Here is WaPo's explanation:

This is a difficult claim to assess because a lot depends on how one reads Obama’s remarks: “The problem is some gun sellers have been operating under a different set of rules. A violent felon can buy the exact same weapon over the Internet with no background check, no questions asked.”

Administration officials say his point was that electronic commerce has made it easier for prohibited people such as felons to obtain firearms (or to hide such transactions from scrutiny behind the dark Web). Put in those terms, his statement is reasonable. Illegal markets often exploit new forms of commerce.

But many readers believed Obama was asserting the rules were different for the Internet — that it legally permitted violent felons to obtain guns.

That's a really important point; public perception of a claim. Unfortunately, many people take statements at face value without a second thought to accuracy. Politicians use this to their advantage when pining for sweeping legislation. It's called being misleading.

And it is a point not lost on the Post:

We agree that Obama’s language is slippery and could be confusing to the average person who doesn’t know anything about FFLs and interstate requirements. There is nothing unique about the Internet; the laws governing private transactions and interstate sales are exactly the same. It’s the same as offering to sell a gun on a bulletin board, except the bulletin board is significantly larger. The Internet, and electronic payment systems such as PayPal and bitcoin, have certainly facilitated transactions that in the past would have been more difficult to arrange.

Obama erred in saying the rules are different for Internet sellers. They face the same rules as other sellers — rules that the administration now says it will enforce better.

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