New York Times Mistates Federal Gun Law, Hillary Gun Record

Gun shows enjoy no special carve-out under federal law

October 5, 2015

The New York Times published a piece Monday that misstated federal gun law and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's position on gun control.

In a piece detailing Clinton's new gun control proposals, the paper implied that gun sales made at gun shows or online are different than sales made elsewhere.

"A central issue in Mrs. Clinton’s proposals are the background checks on prospective gun buyers, which are required for retailers at stores," New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman wrote in the piece. "But under federal law, they are not required at gun shows or over the Internet with private sellers."

However, gun shows and online sales enjoy no special carve-out or loophole. Under federal law, all sales through commercial gun dealers, known as Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs), must be processed through the Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Instant Background Check System regardless of whether the sale was made at a gun shop, gun show, or over the Internet. Similarly, sales of used guns between private parties living in the same state are not required, under federal law, to go through the background check system regardless of where the sale occurs.

A small number of states do require sales between private parties to submit to background checks.

In addition to the error on background checks, the piece misstated Hillary Clinton's position on the question of reinstating a federal assault weapons ban.

"Earlier in the evening, another Democratic candidate, Martin O’Malley, urged Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Sanders to embrace policies he supports, including a reinstatement of the lapsed federal assault weapons ban," Haberman said in the report. "That does not appear to be among those she will suggest."

Clinton has embraced her husband's assault weapons ban. She voted to extend and reinstate it while in the Senate, includes support for it on her campaign website, and expressed support for it in her recent comments on gun control.

"I was proud when my husband took [the National Rifle Association] on, and we were able to ban assault weapons, but he had to put a sunset on so 10 years later," Clinton told donors during a closed-door fundraiser late last month. "Of course [President George W.] Bush wouldn’t agree to reinstate them."