Crenshaw and Ocasio-Cortez Spar Online Over Universal Background Checks: ‘This Is America Outside NYC’

By Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.
September 4, 2019 Updated: September 4, 2019

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) seemingly accused her Republican colleague Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) of lending guns to “domestic abusers” and “criminals” after he noted that universal background checks could prevent law-abiding citizens from using firearms to defend themselves.

Crenshaw shared a story on his Twitter on Sept. 3 about a Texas woman who used a handgun to protect herself from five men who attempted to rob her purse. In his post, he wrote: “Situations like this story are why we protect the 2nd Amendment,” while also noting that “with universal background checks, I wouldn’t be able to let my friends borrow my handgun when they travel alone like this. We would make felons out of people just for defending themselves.”

Ocasio-Cortez replied to Crenshaw’s Twitter post on Sept 4, questioning him why he would be “lending” guns to people who “can’t pass a basic background check,” while accusing the Texas congressman of loaning his guns to people who “have likely abused their spouse or have a violent criminal record.”

Crenshaw then hit back at Ocasio-Cortez’s argument, telling her that people “outside NYC” lend firearms to their friends for “self-defense and hunting purposes.”

“Just so I’m clear: you think my friends are domestic abusers/criminals? Seriously that’s your argument? That they can’t pass a background check? Wrong. People lend guns to friends, esp if they don’t own a gun, for self-defense and hunting purposes,” Crenshaw said.

“This is America outside NYC,” he added.

But the freshman congresswoman showed no signs of retreat, reiterating to Crenshaw that he shouldn’t “lend” a gun if “a background check would be a problem.” She also went on to defend her argument in a series of posts—that Crenshaw probably would not know whether his friends were abusive.

“This idea of ‘I know the guy, there’s no way he beats his wife’ as the way we keep guns out of the hands of abusers is ridiculous. Any person who has been abused, assaulted, etc. knows that abusers often present as ‘upstanding.’ There’s no way you’d know. That’s why it’s common,” she wrote in part.

“Domestic abusers can be master manipulators. Plus, domestic abuse is a HUGE indicator for gun violence. That’s why ‘vouching for friend’ isn’t a substitute for a background check,” she added.

Under the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019, which passed in the House in February and has yet to be voted in the Senate, most person-to-person firearm transfers are to be done through a licensed gun dealer, who then will have to conduct a background check based on current law.

The bill allows for exceptions for transfers between family members, or use in purposes such as hunting, target shooting, and self-defense. The legislation hopes to close a gap in the current law that allows for unlicensed sellers to sell their guns in private sales such as online or in gun-shows without conducting a background check on the purchaser.

The NRA said in a blog in February that they do not believe universal background checks will be able to prevent gun violence; instead, the bill will “have the potential of ensnaring otherwise law-abiding gun owners unfamiliar with its proposed new restrictions on lawful activities that pose no threat to public safety.”

On Sept. 3, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)  said he is waiting on the White House to clarify its position on legislation to address gun violence, and that he would be willing to bring a given bill to the floor if President Donald Trump is willing to sign that bill into law.

Trump has repeatedly said his administration was working on background checks and considered other measures like red flag laws to curb gun violence.

“We’re working on background checks. There are things we can do. But we already have very serious background checks. We have strong background checks. We can close up the gaps. We can do things that are very good and things that, frankly, gun owners want to have done,” Trump said.

He also noted that he was talking to people from all sides including Democrats, Republicans, the NRA, and gun owners to come up with a “meaningful” solution.

Epoch Times reporter Mimi Nguyen-Ly contributed to this report.

Janita Kan
Janita Kan
Janita Kan is a reporter based in New York covering the Justice Department, courts, and First Amendment.