Bloomberg Misleads on Gun Background Checks During Fox News Town Hall

March 2, 2020

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg incorrectly asserted Monday that background checks are not required to be performed on gun sales done at gun shows or over the internet.

At a Fox News town hall, Bloomberg falsely claimed gun stores are required to perform background checks on sales done at their physical premises but sales conducted elsewhere were exempt from background check requirements.

"You cannot buy a gun in a gun store where they won't do a background check. And all they do is look for those three categories—if you're a minor, if you have psychiatric problems, or if you have a criminal record," Bloomberg said. "The law does not apply to guns sold over the internet or in gun shows."

Federally licensed gun dealers are required by federal law to conduct background checks on gun sales, regardless of where they take place. Under federal law, non-licensed individuals are not required to conduct background checks on intrastate gun sales between one another.

There is no special exception in federal law for sales made at gun stores or over the internet. Some states require background checks on non-licensed sales as well, and gun-control advocates want a federal law requiring the same.

Despite spending an estimated $270 million boosting the gun-control movement over the past 13 years and presenting himself as a doctrinaire alternative to frontrunner Bernie Sanders on the issue, Bloomberg has consistently bumbled the basic facts surrounding the gun debate.

He misstated how the background check system works, appeared to invent a new "loophole" in federal gun laws, and made questionable claims about young people and firearm ownership during his campaign launch. His repeated misstatements may call into question his expertise in the issue he has described as his "life's work."

In another false claim, Bloomberg went on during Monday's town hall to say federal law doesn't apply to internet and gun show sales because the internet and gun shows did not exist when the federal background check law was passed in 1993.

"Why? Because those two things came after the law that applies to gun stores was passed," Bloomberg said. "And what I tried to do is just to get every state, because the federal government doesn't seem to want to do it, to just check before they sell anybody a gun to make sure they are not in one of those categories where people really—I think most people would agree—should not have guns."