O’Rourke’s endorsement sparks false messages about Biden’s gun policy
Beto O’Rourke’s endorsement of Joe Biden was used as fuel for disinformation about the former vice president’s gun control policy. If elected president, Biden did not say he would “come get your weapons.”
Joe Biden locked up the backers of three former opponents of the Democratic presidential primary on the eve of Super Tuesday. Senator Amy Klobuchar, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg and former Rep. Beto O’Rourke have each pledged their support for the former vice president.
O’Rourke’s endorsement, which called for a mandatory buy-back policy for certain types of firearms, fueled a series of misinformation about Biden’s proposed firearms policy, which did not not actually changed. This fact has been ignored by many opponents of tougher gun laws, including at least one congressman who posted a video showcasing his AR-15. Republican Rep. Ken Buck of Colorado challenged Biden and O’Rourke to “come and take it” in his video.
When asked if Buck knew that Biden’s proposed gun policy did not include a mandatory buy-back program, spokeswoman Lindsey Curnutte told FactCheck.org in a telephone interview that the the video was made “in response to Beto’s general opinion on the matter.”
After O’Rourke made his approval public at a rally in Dallas on March 2, he and his wife, Amy, took Biden to a Whataburger restaurant and streamed the dinner live on Facebook. An excerpt from that video has now been widely misinterpreted to say that Biden is “coming for” your weapons.
One story perpetuating the lie is titled: “Look: Biden Looks Into Camera And Promises To Take America’s Guns.”
He didn’t say that.
Here’s what he actually said:
“And by the way, this guy can change the face of what we’re dealing with, when it comes to guns – assault weapons – when it comes to climate change, and I just want to – I warn Amy , if I win, I come for him.
This clip shows the exchange from the full video:
Other organizations, including the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association, the Institute for Legislative Action, have made more sweeping statements about how Biden accepted the approval.
Here’s what Biden told the crowd after O’Rourke’s speech at the rally:
“I want to be clear, I’ll guarantee you this isn’t the last time you see this guy – you’re going to fix the gun problem with me.” You are going to be the one leading this effort. I count on you. I count on you. We need you badly – the state needs you, the country needs you, you are the best.
The NRA-ILA took an excerpt from that statement and attached it to an excerpt from O’Rourke advocating the withdrawal of certain types of weapons during a Democratic debate in September. O’Rourke advocated a mandatory buyback program, saying in part: “[H]well yes, we’ll take your AR-15, your AK-47. We will no longer allow it to be used against our fellow Americans. The NRA-ILA posted their spliced video on Facebook with this text: “Joe has promised that if he were president, Beto “will be the one to lead” his gun control efforts.“
But it is misleading to suggest that Biden took O’Rourke’s take on a mandatory buyout policy. Biden’s gun control platform does not include mandatory buybacks. Rather, it offers a buy-back program for those who do not want to register their “assault weapons” under the National Firearms Act.
While the NRA-ILA video is misleading, a headline on a website titled The Truth About Guns goes further, claiming that “Biden would make Beto O’Rourke his administration’s gun confiscation czar.” .
Biden made no such pledge and did not support “gun confiscation.”
A campaign adviser for Biden stressed that O’Rourke will work on “grassroots” efforts. Here’s the full statement the campaign sent when we asked for clarification:
“Vice President Biden is the only candidate in the race to have beaten the NRA – twice. The epidemic of gun violence ravaging communities across our country is a moral and security crisis in its own right, especially for our children. He is honored to have Beto O’Rourke’s endorsement and is delighted that Beto is leading grassroots support for the Vice President’s gun reform proposals that we absolutely cannot afford not to do soon. as possible. It is vital that the next president is able to face and defeat the gunmakers and their lobby, and Joe Biden is the only candidate with the right knowledge and credentials to do so.
Editor’s Note: FactCheck.org is one of many organizations work with facebook to demystify the disinformation shared on social networks. Our previous stories can be found here.
The Biden plan to end our epidemic of gun violence. JoeBiden.com. Accessed March 5, 2020.
PBS News Time. Your hit. “WATCH LIVE: Biden hosts rally in Dallas, with Klobuchar’s approval.” March 2, 2020.
O’Rourke, Beto. Live video on Facebook. March 2, 2020.
Farley, Robert. “O’Rourke is not the only one supporting the mandatory buyout. FactCheck.org. Sep 20, 2019.
Los Angeles Times. Youtube. “Beto O’Rourke on Gun Removal:” Yeah, we’ll take your AR-15, your AK-47. »Sep 12, 2019.
Curnutte, Lindey. Spokesperson, representing Ken Buck. Telephone interview. March 6, 2020.