Fact-checkers at PolitiFact and The Washington Post debunked an ad released by the National Rifle Association that claims Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton “doesn’t believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.” The NRA, which endorsed GOP nominee Donald Trump in May, has spent nearly $5 million opposing Clinton this election cycle, including $3 million in spending on the recent ad that falsely attacks Clinton.
NRA Spends $3 Million On Anti-Clinton Ad In Battleground States
CNN.com: NRA Releases Its “Most Expensive Pro-Trump Ad Buy To Date” Attacking Clinton. Noting that the NRA ad was released the same day Trump caused outrage by claiming “Second Amendment people” could do something about Clinton’s potential judicial nominations, CNN reported that the ad “will air in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Nevada and North Carolina and at about $3 million it's the most expensive pro-Trump ad buy to date.” In the ad a narrator says of Clinton, “Protected by armed guards for 30 years. But she doesn't believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.” [CNN.com, 8/9/16]
Prominent Fact-Checkers Tear Apart The NRA Ad’s “False” Claims About Clinton
PolitiFact North Carolina: Clinton “Never Said” What The NRA Claims. Declaring the NRA’s ad “false,” PolitiFact North Carolina explained that Clinton “thinks more regulations are OK to try to curb gun violence,” but “she says she respects the Second Amendment.” The fact check noted that this view that the Second Amendment is not an “absolute right” and allows for the regulation of firearms was shared by the Bush administration:
Clinton has had a fairly consistent view on gun rights: She says she respects the Second Amendment but thinks more regulations are OK to try to curb gun violence. Her website has details of her specific proposals, and she has also made a number of public statements.
Conservatives and liberals alike might not like to hear this, but it’s true: Clinton’s stance is similar to Bush’s. They would likely disagree on specifics. Yet both have argued that the right to bear arms needs to be upheld, but that it’s not an absolute right and can be regulated, just like the right to free speech.
The NRA said Clinton “doesn’t believe in your right to keep a gun at home for self-defense.”
Clinton has never said that, nor could she do anything about it on her own even if she wanted to. She would need to rely on a new Supreme Court justice, who would first have to be approved by the currently Republican-led Senate.
Clinton did say she disagreed with the Heller ruling, as the NRA points out. But she was talking about specifics and cited the same worries raised by the Bush administration, about looser restrictions on automatic weapons or carrying in public.
We rate this claim False. [PolitiFact, 8/11/16]
Washington Post Fact-Checker Glenn Kessler: “This Is A Classic Example Of A Fear-Mongering Ad Based On Little Evidence But Leaps Of Logic.” The NRA ad received “Four Pinocchios” from the Post’s fact check, its worst rating reserved for claims that are “whoppers.” Kessler cited the PolitiFact North Carolina analysis of the ad’s false claims and also noted that it was premised on “predicting the rulings of Supreme Court justices not yet selected,” which is a “fool’s errand”:
In many ways, the NRA’s attack is a more sophisticated version of Donald Trump’s repeated claim that Clinton wants to “abolish” the Second Amendment.” The NRA’s fear is that Clinton, as president, will have a chance to name a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia, who wrote the Heller decision. The Supreme Court narrowly decided the case, with bitter opposition expressed by the minority, so gun-rights advocates fear a new justice will help the Supreme Court chip away at the sweeping nature of the Heller decision.
But this fear may not be realized, as predicting the rulings of Supreme Court justices not yet selected is a fool’s errand. Moreover, Clinton’s public positions on gun control are far less extreme than suggested by the ad. Her main focus has been on taking steps that she contends would reduce gun violence.
On her campaign website, Clinton calls for more comprehensive background checks, repealing the gun industry’s immunity from lawsuits for negligence, revoking the licenses of gun dealers that knowingly supply weapons to straw purchasers and gun traffickers, and toughening laws and regulations to prevent domestic abusers and the mentally ill from obtaining guns. She also calls for a renewal of the assault-weapons ban.
None of these proposals would restrict a person from buying a gun to keep at home for self-defense (unless that person was convicted of domestic abuse).
This is a classic example of a fear-mongering ad based on little evidence but leaps of logic. While the NRA does not go so far as to claim that Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, the wording of its claim suggests that.
Clinton has said that she disagreed with the Supreme Court’s decision in Heller, but she has made no proposals that would strip Americans of the right to keep a gun at home for self-defense. Clinton is certainly in favor of more gun regulations and tougher background checks, and a more nuanced ad could have made this case. Conjuring up a hypothetical Supreme Court justice ruling in a hypothetical case is simply not enough for such a sweeping claim. That tips the ad’s claim into the Four-Pinocchio category. [The Washington Post, 8/15/16; 9/11/13]