Fox News is using the horrific murder of an Oklahoma woman to misrepresent President Obama's gun policy and to falsely accuse him of “wag[ing] a war on the Second Amendment” and of wanting to “ban guns in the hands of everybody except the police.”
On September 26 a man who had been recently fired from his job at an Oklahoma food processing plant attacked his co-workers, beheading one with a knife and wounding another. The attack was stopped when the suspect was shot and wounded by the business' CEO, who is also a reserve sheriff's deputy. Local law enforcement has asked the FBI to investigate the crime to determine if there is any link to terrorism.
A September 30 segment on Fox & Friends used the Oklahoma murder to attack Obama, with co-host Steve Doocy asking, “So with yet another example of how guns save lives, why does President Obama and his administration continue to wage a war on the Second Amendment?”
In the discussion that followed, Doocy and guest Andrew Napolitano, Fox News' senior judicial analyst, pushed a number of myths about actions the Obama administration has taken to reduce gun violence, including falsely claiming that Obama supports banning civilian gun ownership, that Obama wants to use an international treaty to make it “very, very difficult to carry guns,” that Obama has ordered doctors to ask patients about gun ownership, that Obama has forced people to disclose their race when buying guns, and that Obama has used executive actions “to limit the uses of guns.”
(The segment also included false claims about gun violence generally, including the “more guns equals less crime” conservative media myth and falsehood that civilians with guns could serve as a panacea for public mass shooting incidents.)
Doocy Claims Obama Wants To Ban Civilian Gun Ownership, In Contradiction To President's Actions And Statements
Doocy stated, “So if Barack Obama could, he would ban guns in the hands of everybody except the police.” Napolitano agreed, claiming, “He has made that patently clear. His problem is the Second Amendment, and the Supreme Court interpretations of it.”
However, Obama has never advocated for a general ban on firearms. In fact, when the National Rifle Association accused Obama of supporting banning handguns, PolitiFact rated that claim “false.”
Obama has actually praised the Supreme Court's interpretation of the Second Amendment. Following the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller that held the Second Amendment protects the right to own a handgun in the home for the purpose of self-defense, then-presidential candidate Obama released a statement that read in part, “I have always believed that the Second Amendment protects the right of individuals to bear arms ... Today's decision reinforces that if we act responsibly, we can both protect the constitutional right to bear arms and keep our communities and our children safe.”
Nothing in Obama's plan to reduce gun violence following the December 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School would prohibit the general population from owning guns. While the Obama administration has backed a ban on assault weapons, such a proposal would grandfather in assault weapons currently possessed by the general public.
Napolitano Invokes U.N. Arms Trade Treaty Conspiracy Theory About International Regulation Of Domestic Gun Ownership
Napolitano said that Obama is “attempting to now get us to enact a treaty to make it very, very difficult to carry guns,” a reference to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty.
While the Arms Trade Treaty seeks to stem the flow of weapons to human rights abusers, the NRA and conservatives in media have spun the treaty into a bizarre conspiracy theory where the Obama administration would use the treaty to allow international actors to regulate gun ownership domestically.
In fact, the treaty's preamble makes clear that each signatory nation has the right to regulate domestic firearm ownership “pursuant to its own legal or constitutional system.” Indeed, the Supreme Court has ruled that the U.S. Constitution supersedes any international treaty. The treaty actually aims to create international standards to block the sale of weapons to countries or other entities that are committing atrocities. According to the American Bar Association, the treaty is “consistent with the Second Amendment” and “would not require new domestic regulations of firearms.”
Napolitano Invents Fake Obama Order That Doctors Ask Patients About Guns
According to Napolitano, Obama has mandated that, “Doctors are supposed to ask if you have a gun in the house. He ordered that. It's not in the law and it's not enacted by the Congress, it's a decision made by the President of the United States through the powers that he has abused.”
Obama has never required doctors to ask patients about gun ownership, although conservative media falsely claimed that he had done so in January 2013. When the Obama administration released its post-Sandy Hook gun violence proposal that month, one of the recommendations clarified that under the Affordable Care Act, doctors are still permitted -- but not required -- to discuss with their patients any health hazards, including safe gun practices.
There is also no evidence that the Obama administration is using ACA to collect information about gun owners. In fact, language in ACA explicitly prohibits the Secretary of Health and Human Services from collecting such information.
Doocy And Napolitano Suggest Obama Is Collecting The Race Of Gun Owners In Order To “Intimidate People”
Relying on a debunked Washington Times report, Napolitano claimed of Obama, “he's told the states ask people when they get registered for guns what their race is.” Doocy asked, “Is that just to intimidate people?”
On September 16, The Washington Times reported on a 2012 Obama administration “policy change” that required gun buyers to indicate race and ethnicity on the form used to process background checks on gun purchases from licensed dealers. Media Matters demonstrated that the form has asked questions about race and ethnicity dating back to at least 2001. In 2012, the form underwent a minor change where the question on race and ethnicity was separated into two question boxes.
In sharing the debunked claim on Fox & Friends, Napolitano added an additional falsehood: the form does not “register” anyone's gun ownership status, because federal law prohibits the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that processes the forms from creating a national gun registry.
Doocy Falsely Claims Obama Has Used Executive Actions “To Try To Limit The Uses Of Guns”
Referencing the Obama administration's post-Sandy Hook gun violence plan, Doocy said, “You just go back about a year and a half ago in January of 2013 there were 23 executive actions, you know that's the stuff he's got a pen and he's got a phone, which he did his best to try to limit the uses of guns.”
None of the nonbinding actions -- which throughout the segment were often misidentified by on-screen graphics as binding “executive orders” - “limit the use of guns.”
The 23 actions focus on improving the background check system's record keeping, bolstering law enforcement resources, providing funding for research on the causes of gun violence, and helping improve school security. None of the actions restrict the availability or use of already legal firearms.
From the September 30 edition of Fox & Friends: