RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — Lawmakers have been under intense pressure to take some kind of action on firearms in the wake of recent mass shootings at a grocery store in Buffalo, New York, and an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas.
But while a North Carolina Congressman promoted a bill he wrote, he made a questionable claim about the Republican Party’s record on the issue.
THE CLAIM: “There are only two significant gun safety bills that have recently passed Congress. Both of them Republican bills, passed by Republican majorities and signed by Republican presidents,” Rep. Richard Hudson said.
THE FACTS: Jake Charles, the executive director of the Duke Center for Firearms Law, called the statement “technically accurate, but at least incomplete.”
Hudson is talking about the Fix NICS Act and the STOP School Violence Act, which both became law in 2018, spokesman Greg Steele said.
The Congressman mentioned both by name in a newsletter posted to his House website earlier this week.
But it’s not entirely accurate to call the Fix NICS Act a Republican bill is questionable because at the time it was sold as an act of bipartisanship, with one of its co-authors calling it a “bipartisan breakthrough.”
“I don’t think (calling it a Republican bill) is an accurate description of what that kind of bill is,” Charles said. “Even the underlying policies and these bills, I think, are broadly supported across the aisle.”
Republicans John Cornyn of Texas and Tim Scott of South Carolina and Democrats Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut introduced the Senate bill that was signed into law.
It gives states incentives — such as grants — for uploading and verifying the criminal and mental health records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, to stop people unfit to own guns from buying them.
“It did not create new policy, because, of course, the federal government and states were already required to report these records into that background check system,” said Robin Lloyd, the managing director of Giffords, a Washington-based group that advocates for gun control. “But they just weren’t doing as good of a job as they should have been.”
And it’s even more of a stretch to call the STOP School Violence Act of 2018 a gun safety bill — because it focuses solely on securing schools.
Passed by the House in the aftermath of the massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida, it authorizes $50 million a year for safety improvements that include training teachers and students on ways to prevent violence.
But it has nothing to do with gun safety.
“It’s a school safety bill,” Lloyd said. “It is not a gun policy bill in any way, shape, or form.”
The only mentions of the word “firearm” the bill come in text saying those grants may not be spent on a gun or gun training, and that nothing in the bill contradicts any other provision of law authorizing the provision of firearms or training to use them.
Tucked into the seventh paragraph of the newsletter was another quote that deserved further examination.
THE CLAIM: The newsletter quoted President Joe Biden’s press secretary as saying protecting children in schools “is not something he believes in.”
THE FACTS: That’s a selective edit of a quote taken out of context.
Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was talking about Biden’s opinion on the idea of “hardening schools” — by adding police and metal detectors — not about the broader topic of making children safer.
The quote came as part of her answer during a May 31 briefing when she was asked if Biden believes the debate should be about the guns themselves or about mental illness and school safety.
“I know there’s been conversation about hardening schools; that is not something that he believes in,” Jean-Pierre said.