September 23rd, 2008
01:04 PM ET
14 years ago

Fact Check: Does Obama want to ban guns and rifles?

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The National Rifle Association released a new ad Monday, taking aim at Obama over the Second Amendment."]
The Statement

In an ad titled "Hunter," aired Monday, September 22, the National Rifle Association asserts that Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama has voted to ban common ammunition and supports banning shotguns and rifles used by hunters. "Now I learn that Barack Obama supports a huge new tax on my guns and ammo," the narrator of the ad says. "If you can believe it, he also supports a ban on the shotguns and rifles most of us use for hunting."

Get the facts after the jump!

The Facts
On his campaign Web site, Obama says he respects the Second Amendment right to bear arms and "will protect the rights of hunters and other law-abiding Americans to purchase, own, transport and use guns." As CNN reported, Obama's running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, told supporters at a Virginia rally on Saturday, September 20, "I guarantee you, Barack Obama ain't taking my shotguns. So don't buy that malarkey. They're going to start peddling that to you. I've got two and if he tries to fool with my Beretta, he's got a problem."

Obama supports reinstating former President Bill Clinton's ban on assault rifles, closing what he calls a loophole that lets people buy handguns at gun shows without the same rigorous background checks as at stores and what his Web site calls "commonsense measures that respect the Second Amendment rights of gun owners, while keeping guns away from children and from criminals who shouldn't have them." He has publicly supported the right of local governments to have handgun bans and, as a state senator, cosponsored a failed bill that would have limited handgun sales to one per month.

To support its claims, the NRA ad prints three references at the bottom of the screen - a 2005 Senate vote, a 2004 Senate debate with Republican opponent Alan Keyes and a 1999 article in the Chicago Defender. The vote, which the ad calls an effort "to ban virtually all deer-hunting ammunition," was an unsuccessful effort to expand the legal definition of armor-piercing ammunition to include pistol and rifle rounds that the U.S. attorney general deemed more likely to penetrate body armor than a normal round. In a Senate speech, the amendment's sponsor, Sen. Edward Kennedy, said it was not aimed at ammunition used for hunting. In addition, the vote itself wouldn't have singled out any ammunition - instead leaving the decision on what, if anything, to ban up to the attorney general.

The claim Obama would push a "ban on shotguns and rifles most of us use for hunting" is pegged to this quote from the 2004 debate: "Mr. Keyes does not believe in any limits, from what I can tell, with respect to the possession of guns, including assault weapons that have only one purpose, to kill people. I think it is a scandal that this president did not authorize a renewal of the assault weapons ban."

The 1999 article in the Chicago Defender paraphrases a speech by Obama - then a state senator - in which it says he promoted a plan to "increase the federal taxes by 500 percent on the sale of firearm, ammunition [sic] - weapons he says are most commonly used in firearm deaths." Obama's exact words aren't documented. But, as a state senator, Obama would have had no control over federal taxes and, as a U.S. senator, he has neither introduced nor suggested such a plan.

The Verdict: Misleading. While Obama has supported some measures to limit gun rights, he has backed nothing on the scale suggested in the ad.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Fact Check • NRA
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.