Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

Gun advocacy in your email

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is shepherding gun legislation on Capitol Hill.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., is shepherding gun legislation on Capitol Hill.

The debate in Congress over gun laws has interest groups across the country urging their supporters to pressure lawmakers.

And it’s not just national groups like the National Rifle Association and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, but smaller organizations such as the Arizona Citizens Defense League, which fired off an email blast last week as the Senate prepared to open debate on a bill from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

A reader forwarded us their message to fact-check.

As we found with national gun claims, when local activists send you urgent notes, it’s wise to dig a little deeper into the rhetoric.

The message claimed that, "In reality S. 649 is proposing the universal registration of all firearms and their owners." The bill, known as the Safe Communities, Safe Schools Act of 2013, expands background checks to most gun transfers. But federal rules forbid the government from keeping a record of successful background checks for more than a day. We rated the claim False.

The email was on stronger footing with another claim, that "you would be committing a federal felony if you ...  leave town for more than seven days, and leave someone else at home with your firearms." Indeed, S. 649, as introduced in the Senate, allows for "temporary transfers" of guns in your own home that last less than seven days. But leaving a house-sitter or roommate with access to weapons while you’re away for a longer stretch could be a problem, attorneys explained to PolitiFact. We rated the claim Half True.

Meanwhile, the background check language in S. 649 will likely change as the Senate considers the legislation. A bipartisan amendment from Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., could face a vote this week.

We’ll watch for more claims. But it’s a good reminder that activists closer to home aren’t necessarily closer to the truth.