On Friday afternoon, a New Hampshire voter asked Hillary Clinton if she would consider a national-level gun-buyback program, an idea plenty of states and municipalities have experimented with. The Democratic candidate said it "would be worth considering doing it on the national level if that could be arranged.”
Almost immediately the NRA accused Clinton of supporting “gun confiscation.” Are gun-buyback programs in any way similar to "confiscation"? Well, no. But the truth isn't scary and won't motivate far-right activists, so the facts had to be replaced.
That same afternoon, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) sent out a mailing featuring a made-up picture of President Obama wearing some kind of battle helmet. "Friend, I own guns," the Republican presidential candidate wrote. "I'm planning on keeping them. But there's a problem ... Obama is coming for our guns."
Actually, no, he's not, but again, lies have been deemed necessary because the truth isn't provocative enough.
Last night offered an even more striking example. CNN reported:
Donald Trump on Monday served up a fresh platter of red meat to a crowd of 5,600 supporters in this deep red part of South Carolina, including suggesting that President Barack Obama is planning to sign an executive order to "take your guns away." "You know, the President is thinking about signing an executive order where he wants to take your guns away. You hear about this?"
Well, no, I haven't heard about this -- probably because there's no such thing as a presidential executive order in which the government could take Americans' guns away. It's not something Obama is "thinking about," because it's literally impossible.
Trump added, "I think that's a tough one for [the president] to do. There's plenty of executive orders being signed, you know that. And we can't let that go on."
When people wonder why there aren't more compromises between Democrats and Republicans, let's keep the "reality gap" in mind. Gun policy is an issue on which there's a fair amount of public consensus, though these truths are often blurred by deliberate falsehoods.
There are efforts to circumvent the lies and improve public safety, and Rachel talked to California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) about the possibilities last night.