Former president Barack Obama spoke at a digital innovation event in Sao Paulo, Brazil last May. He spoke negatively about U.S. gun laws. Obama told the crowd, “And some of you may be aware our gun laws in the United States don’t make much sense. Anybody can buy any weapon, any time whether or not you know, without much, if any, regulation. They can buy it over the internet. They can buy machine guns.” This can’t be further from the truth!

First off, Obama said, “Anybody can buy a firearm.”​ Not only is that false, but there are also three major federal restrictions on who may purchase firearms in the United States (not including the many state and local restrictions). ​ ​The first category of people who may not purchase firearms under federal law is referred to as “prohibited persons.” This category includes felons, illegal aliens, unlawful users of controlled substances, those convicted of domestic violence, fugitives, those subjected to certain restraining orders, and those adjudicated as mental defectives or committed to mental institutions, and veterans with dishonorable discharges.

The second category of people who may not purchase firearms under federal law is based on age. Any person under 21 years old may not purchase handguns from a gun dealer, and anyone under 18 years old may not purchase rifles or shotguns.

The third category of people who may not purchase firearms under federal law are non-U.S. citizens. Furthermore, various state and local laws prohibit people from purchasing firearms unless they have a special permit or license that is issued by that state.

Obama said “Any firearm can be purchased” ​which is false. Under federal law, machine guns made after 1986 may not be purchased by civilians. Also, the National Firearms Act of 1934 (NFA) regulates other firearms which may be purchased. Various state and local laws prohibit entire categories of firearms from being purchased, either by their features or by name.

Obama told the crowd that ​“a firearm can be purchased at any time.” Background check requirements must be met when purchasing a firearm from a federally licensed gun dealer. Many states use their own background check system, however, most background checks are ran through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. A federal background check may only be ran between 8 a.m. and 1 a.m. Eastern Time, and some states, such as Tennessee, background checks can only be done between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. Central Standard Time.

For the class of firearms covered by the NFA, such as short-barreled rifles a purchaser must wait until the paperwork is approved by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. The wait time is often up to 10 months so this restricts a person’s ability to purchase any firearm at any given time.

“Firearms can be purchased over the internet” is also incorrect. Obama wants people to think a gun can be purchased online and shipped straight to the purchaser’s home like any other online purchase. Technically, a person may purchase firearms online. However, when a person purchases a firearm online from an out-of-state retailer, the firearm must first be shipped to a local FFL, where the purchaser must appear to complete the required paperwork and satisfy the background check requirements. So in conclusion, a payment may be made online, but the firearm may not be purchased over the internet like any unregulated product.

“Anyone can purchase a machine gun” is also false. As previously stated, not everyone is permitted to purchase a firearm, let alone a machine gun. Machine guns made after 1986 may only be purchased or possessed by FFL or government entities. Additionally, some laws flat out ban the right to own or possess a machine gun.

These politicians need to stop lying about firearm laws because it does nothing to help reduce gun violence. In fact, Obama was speaking in a country that has a huge murder rate even though gun laws are strict. Maybe Obama needs to read the U.S. gun laws again before he speaks about them.