NRA President Pushes Conspiracy Theory That Obama Will Use Medicare To Create Gun Registry
Blog ››› ››› TIMOTHY JOHNSON
National Rifle Association President Jim Porter falsely claimed that Medicare enrollees are asked to disclose household gun ownership to revive the NRA's decades-old scare tactics about a federal gun registry.
On the December 4 edition of the NRA News show Cam & Company, Porter claimed, "People are not interested in this government going into their records. That's why we are so concerned about everything they are doing to register people in firearms. Even when you go to register for Medicare or under these new programs they ask intrusive questions about -- that they have no business asking, they invade your privacy, and they also are asking questions about whether or not you have firearms in homes." Noting that the NRA has "been concerned about gun registration since 1968," Porter also suggested that his claim about an Obama administration gun registry scheme meant that "the public clearly sees and agrees with us about our concerns."
NRA leadership often baselessly suggests that the Obama administration is attempting to secretly regulate firearms in a manner inconsistent with the administration's public positions. A White House spokesperson has said a national gun registry "is not something that the president has supported" and the post-Newtown massacre Obama administration proposal to reduce gun violence did not call for a registry. In fact, the NRA previously acknowledged in a since-deleted post on its website that the creation of a registry by the government would be currently contrary to two federal laws.
Furthermore, in April, the NRA played a critical role in blocking Obama administration-backed U.S. Senate legislation that would have expanded background checks to all commercial gun sales while also making it a serious criminal offense for an attorney general to create a national gun registry.
Porter offered no evidence to support his claim that Medicare enrollment includes questions about gun ownership and in fact no such question is included in the application for benefits. A related claim that Medicare Annual Wellness Visits include mandatory questions about gun ownership has also been thoroughly debunked.
Hyperbolic claims that the provision of health care is a privacy threat to gun owners is a common theme seen in conservative media and NRA messaging. In January, after the Obama administration issued an executive action clarifying that doctors are allowed -- but not required -- to discuss health hazards, including a lack of gun safety at home, conservative media claimed that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required doctors to ask patients about guns. This claim was a misreading of the law; in fact, lobbying by the NRA secured language in the ACA that prohibited the Department of Health and Human Services from collecting information about gun ownership under the law. The NRA's paranoia surrounding medical care is evidenced by the group's support for an unconstitutional 2011 Florida law that would have made it a crime for doctors to ask about gun ownership.
The NRA often circulates baseless conspiracies about firearm registration plots that result in the confiscation of privately owned firearms by the federal government. In an August column for The Daily Caller, NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre warned of a "confiscation scheme -- 'universal gun owner licensing and registration'" where "[a]cquisition, transfer or continued ownership of firearms could depend on the whim of federal bureaucrats." The NRA also frequently claims that a United Nations treaty that exclusively regulates the international arms trade will actually be used to create a domestic gun registry preceding gun confiscation.