Watch Psaki translate what Biden meant when he lied about gun show background checks

White House press secretary Jen Psaki appeared to dodge a question from a reporter Thursday who quoted a false statement President Joe Biden made earlier in the day during a press conference announcing new executive actions on guns.

During the exchange, the reporter first asked Psaki if the administration had any “data” on the number of crimes that have been committed with so-called “ghost guns,” which were specifically mentioned by Biden during his Rose Garden speech in which he announced about a half-dozen new actions.

“I’m sure we can get you some data,” Psaki replied, while also referring him to several “experts” who attended Biden’s speech.

The reporter then asked, “The president said a moment ago, ‘You go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want, no background check.’ Is there a special exemption in federal law that he was referring to? Do … dealers not have to do background checks when they’re at a gun show?”

(Video: C-SPAN)

“Were you asking me if he was referring to a specific circumstance? Tell me a little more about your question,” Psaki responded.

“Is it the president’s belief that you do not have to undergo a background check when you are at a gun show?” the reporter asked directly.

“No, it’s not his belief. He believes that gun…that background checks should be universal,” the press secretary answered.

“Right, but he said ‘no background check,’” the reporter pressed.

“Well…we know what his position is, right?” Psaki insisted. “So let me reiterate that. So background checks are something that should be universal. They’re supported by more than 80 percent of the public.”  

In fact, Biden said exactly what the reporter claimed, verbatim.

“Most people don’t know: If you walk into a store and you buy a gun, you have a background check.  But you go to a gun show, you can buy whatever you want and no background check,” Biden said Thursday.

But the president’s claim is false. While there are some private person-to-person exchanges at gun shows, any customer who buys a gun from a licensed dealer is subjected to the same instant background check as though they were buying from a gun dealer through a retail store. And most sales at such shows are made via licensed dealers.

Also, even private sales in 13 states are subject to background checks. And the vast majority of sales at gun shows are made through licensed dealers.

The reporter went on to ask Psaki about another facet of Biden’s executive actions — asking the Justice Department to issue rules and regulations for AR-15-style pistols, that is, standard AR-15 carbines that can be ‘miniaturized’ into much shorter versions using a “pistol brace.” Those guns could soon be subject to a $200-per-weapon tax imposed by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Or they could be banned altogether under provisions of the Prohibition-era National Firearms Act.

“What should the law-abiding American” who legally purchased pistol braces “do as they await that regulation? Should they expect buybacks, or should they be prepared to turn those in, or is this a confiscation situation?”

“I don’t think that’s what we’re suggesting,” Psaki responded. “There’s gonna be some time to put in place this regulation, as you referred to, and take a close look at the most effective way to do that.”

There are an estimated 3-4 million AR-15-style pistols in circulation, according to estimates by gun industry groups.

According to the most recent FBI statistics, so-called “assault weapons” are only used in a fraction of gun homicides. The vast majority of those crimes are committed with semi-automatic handguns.


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Jon Dougherty


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