A Conspiracy Theory Persists

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There was plenty of bogus information that surfaced earlier this year when Congress considered expanding background checks on people who want to buy guns. But among the most persistent has been that a bill that was debated in the Senate would have created a national registry of gun owners.

The theory was so bogus that even Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) acknowledged at the time that the bill being debated had no such provision. In fact, it made it a felony to do so.

The bill eventually failed, and there has been no serious movement to revive it. But the theory that the feds would have created a registry, which could then be used to take away America’s guns, has lived on.

That was as clear as ever during TPM’s interview on Monday with Scott Smith, who’s the mayor of Mesa, Ariz., as well as the president of the prominent U.S. Conference of Mayors. Smith is no tea partier, and generally no conspiracy theorist. He’s a pragmatic Republican who sometimes torches his own party, and he might end up being Arizona’s next governor if he decides to run in 2014. (Gov. Jan Brewer is term limited, leaving the race wide open.)

But Smith told us he couldn’t get behind most background check efforts, including the one in the Senate earlier this year, because he believed, without any proof, it would lead to a gun registry. Even with a ban in place, he said, the government could find a way to do it. Why? Because … NSA.

“Just like the NSA banned snooping on emails? You know, I don’t like that kind of information in the hands of certain government officials,” he said. “I don’t trust them.”

Read the full interview.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nick Martin is an associate editor at TPM in New York City. He came to the site in 2011 as a reporter for TPMMuckraker. Previously, he worked in Arizona, first as a staff reporter for a local newspaper and later as a freelance journalist. He also ran the news blog Heat City. Contact him at nick@talkingpointsmemo.com
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