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In the wake of the 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden release a plan to curtail gun violence. (White House/screengrab)
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• Biden, then vice president, was describing in detail what he called a campaign of disinformation by the National Rifle Association, including the false idea that the government would take people’s guns.
• Biden made the comment in 2013, while speaking to reporters about gun control legislation under consideration by Congress at that time.
Less than six months after the December 2012 elementary school shooting in Newtown, Conn., left 28 people dead, then-Vice President Joe Biden stood before reporters to talk about proposed gun control legislation.
Though Biden was describing what he called a campaign of disinformation by the National Rifle Association, social media users have since stripped his comments of context to make it seem like he is threatening to have the government seize people’s guns.
A viral Facebook post shows a 26-second clip of Biden saying, "No way that Uncle Sam can go find out whether you own a gun because we’re about to really take away all your rights and you’re not going to be able to defend yourself and we’re going to swoop down with Special Forces folks and gather up every gun in America."
The video has a text overlay that suggests the statement was spoken as a threat: "This is how I see this going if u try," it reads before cutting to a drill sergeant yelling in a clip from the movie "Full Metal Jacket."
The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)
Biden did make that remark in April 2013, but the post does not include his comments before or after that statement, which make it clear he was describing what he believed to be misinformation about the gun control legislation, not proposed actions by the government.
About five minutes before the comment featured in the Facebook post, at the 27: 15 mark in Biden’s full speech, Biden began explaining that the National Rifle Association was engaging in a campaign of disinformation, and he talked extensively about the false ideas the organization was spreading about proposed background checks for purchasing guns.
At the time of his speech, the Manchin-Toomey gun proposal was under consideration by Congress and would have mandated criminal background checks on all sales between private parties with limited exceptions. The proposal was later defeated.
Biden said the NRA was falsely claiming that the federal government wanted to create a federal registry of people who’ve purchased guns. Mocking the detractors, he says, "Black helicopter crowd really is upset."
His comment about Special Forces came at the 32: 04 mark in his full speech. Until then, he had been describing and debunking claims about the proposed gun control legislation. Then he said: "No central registry for anything. No way that Uncle Sam can go find out whether you own a gun because we’re about to really take away all your rights and you’re not going to be able to defend yourself and we’re going to swoop down with Special Forces folks and gather up every gun in America. It’s bizarre. But that’s what’s being sold out there."
A conservative news outlet noted at the time that Biden was speaking mockingly.
A Facebook post claims that President Joe Biden threatened to "swoop down with Special Forces folks and gather up every gun in America."
The claim shows a seconds-long clip from a much longer speech that Biden delivered, when he described and debunked claims about proposed gun control legislation. His remark about the government gathering guns was intended to show what kind of misinformation was being spread. The entirety of his speech includes the context that makes that clear.
We rate this claim False.
Associated Press, "Video misrepresents Biden statements, policies on guns," June 10, 2021
Britannica, "Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting," accessed Nov. 9, 2021
C-SPAN, "Gun Violence Prevention," April 9, 2013
Facebook post, Oct. 26, 2021
Marked Movies, "Classic Scene: ‘Let me see your war face!’" accessed Nov. 8, 2021
PolitiFact, "A summary of the Manchin-Toomey gun proposal," April 30, 2013
Washington Examiner, "Biden mocks gun skeptics: ‘We’re going to swoop down with Special Forces folks and gather up every gun in America,’" April 9, 2013
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