It isn’t all that uncommon for entertainment personalities to spout off on issues about which they know nothing and quickly find themselves looking stupid, but actor Boris Kodjoe took the prize for the most uninformed and ill-timed tweet about the Las Vegas massacre. Kodjoe managed to tweet an even worse message than Hillary Clinton’s blatantly partisan and tone deaf tweet about silencers Monday morning.
Kodjoe, whose IMDB page lists few credits that you’ve probably heard of, tweeted, “My 10 year old asked me how the shooter was able to get his machine gun. I told him that pretty much anyone in the US can. ‘But why daddy’?”
A user called “Heimish Conservative” responded best with the retort, “So you lied to your kid?”
Kodjoe, who was born in Vienna, Austria to German and Ghanaian parents, is obviously ignorant of American gun laws, despite having spent more than two decades in the United States. Kodjoe’s tweet is blatantly false. Not everyone in the US can get a gun and “machine guns” are extremely difficult to get.
In 1986, the National Firearms Act banned the possession by private individuals of fully automatic weapons, “machine guns” to Boris Kodjoe, manufactured after May 18, 1986. The Federalist points out that there are no exceptions to this law and the penalty is stiff, a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison.
Pre-1986 automatic weapons can be legally purchased, but it isn’t easy. Prospective owners of an automatic must submit to a thorough federal background check that includes submitting fingerprints and a photo. The purchaser must pay $200 in taxes and both the gun and its owner will be listed in a federal registry.
It isn’t even accurate to say that “anyone” can buy a semi-automatic (one bullet fired for one trigger pull) gun. There are age limits and other restrictions on the ability to purchase guns. Background checks have been required under federal law since 1994. Many states have even more stringent requirements.
Stephen Paddock’s guns were not fully automatic and he had passed the background checks required to own semi-automatic weapons. At least one of Paddock’s 23 guns was modified with a “bump stock,” a legal modification that increases the rate of fire to simulate an automatic. Paddock apparently broke no laws until he started killing people.
Actors like Boris Kodjoe and Jimmy Kimmel are entitled to voice their opinions on political issues, but they don’t have the right to put out false and misleading information without being corrected. Like any other citizens, Kodjoe and Kimmel should learn about both sides of the issues to make informed comments and avoid embarrassing themselves.