President Joe Biden opposes the sale of assault weapons, and he supports a mandatory federal registry and a voluntary buyback program for all legally purchased assault weapons. But a video shared on Twitter by Sen. Ted Cruz leaves the false impression Biden wants to confiscate all guns.
The video, which Cruz dubbed “The Real State of the Union,” was released on April 27, the eve of Biden’s first address to a joint session of Congress. It includes a clip of a speech from the Republican senator saying, “They [Democrats] want to pack the U.S. Supreme Court with four left-wing radicals, to destroy our free speech, destroy religious liberty, destroy and seek to erase the Second Amendment.”
The video then cuts to CNN’s Anderson Cooper saying to Biden, “To gun owners out there who say, well, a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns.”
The video then shows Biden’s immediate response: “Bingo.”
Left out is Biden’s full answer, which makes clear he was referring only to the purchase of semi-automatic firearms, or so-called assault weapons.
Cooper, Aug. 6, 2019: So, to gun owners out there who say, “Well, a Biden administration means they’re going to come for my guns” —
Biden: Bingo. You’re right, if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period.
Look, the Second Amendment doesn’t say you can’t restrict the kinds of weapons people can own. You can’t buy a bazooka. You can’t have a flamethrower.
In the interview, Biden went on to say that he would not seek to confiscate assault weapons.
“Right now, there’s no legal way that I’m aware of that you could deny them the right if they’ve … legally purchased them,” Biden said.
He said he would try to institute a voluntary national buyback program to have gun owners turn in their assault weapons to get them off the streets. “That’s not walking into their homes, knocking on their doors, going through their gun cabinets, et cetera,” he explained.
Biden’s campaign platform on gun control said he would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines for ammunition. It said he would give those currently in possession of either a choice: sell the weapons to the government or register them under the National Firearms Act.
The difference between Biden’s stated position and the impression of Biden’s position left by the edited video is stark.
According to a poll released by the Pew Research Center on April 20, 63% of Americans favor banning assault weapons. There is a wide partisan divide on the issue, with 83% of Democrats supporting the ban of assault weapons compared with just 37% of Republicans (the proposal has grown less popular among Republicans in recent years).
By contrast, a far smaller percentage of Americans believe the possession of all handguns should be banned.
For example, a Gallup poll conducted Sept. 30 to Oct. 15 asked the question, “Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?” Just 25% of Americans said yes, there should be, while 74% said no, there should not be. That minority of support has remained generally unchanged for more than a decade.
Biden repeatedly has said he does not favor banning all guns, as Biden made clear in a colorful exchange with an autoworker during the presidential campaign in March 2020:
Man: You are actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns.
Biden: You’re full of shit. I did not—no, no, shush. Shush. I support the Second Amendment. The Second Amendment — just like right now if you yelled fire, that’s not free speech. And from the very beginning, I have a shotgun, I have a 20-gauge, a 12-gauge. My sons hunt, guess what? You’re not allowed to own any weapon, I’m not taking your gun away at all. You need 100 rounds?
Man: You and [former Rep.] Beto [O’Rourke] say you’re going to take our guns —
Biden: I did not say that. That’s not true. I did not say that.
We’ve seen this out-of-context use of Biden’s interview with Cooper weaponized before. Back in October, we wrote about a campaign ad from then-President Donald Trump that similarly truncated Biden’s quote, distorting his position.
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