Fact Check: Obama Did NOT Remove 500,000 'Pedophiles From Government Online Databases'

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: Obama Did NOT Remove 500,000 'Pedophiles From Government Online Databases' Trump Change

Did former President Barack Obama remove half a million pedophiles from government online databases? No, that's not true: The claim refers to changes in criminal record-keeping. The Trump administration issued the memo in February 2017 that more narrowly defined a "fugitive from justice" as a person with an arrest warrant who had also fled state lines. This resulted in 500,000 people being removed from the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) Indices who were previously flagged, including but not limited to "pedophiles." There is no evidence there were 500,000 pedophiles on the list.

A version of the claim that Obama "removed half a million Pedophiles from Government online databases" originated in a post shared on Twitter on April 29, 2023, (archived here) with a caption that read:

🇺🇸 Barack Obama in 2018 removed half a million Pedophiles from Government online databases.

They've been planning this shit for literally decades.

Criminals, Trans, Pedos, illegal immigrants are also useful idiots being used to help facilitate The Great Reset

Below is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-05-04 at 6.40.16 PM.png(Source: Twitter screenshot taken Tues May 5 10:40:16 UTC 2023)

The policy change has to do with criminal background check systems for gun buyers.

To buy, transfer or possess a firearm from a federal firearms licensed dealer, a person must pass a background check through the FBI's national record system, the NICS. A buyer may not pass the background check for a number of reasons, including for being identified as a "fugitive from justice." Prior to 2017, this designation was broadly defined as anyone with an arrest warrant.

In 2017, this designation was changed. These changes did not remove convicted sex offenders, including pedophiles, from government databases. Convicted sex offenders are still required to be listed with the Department of Justice National Sex Offender state registries.

Changes to NICS under the Trump administration did two things: First, a "fugitive from justice" was more narrowly defined -- from anyone with an arrest warrant to only include those with an arrest warrant who had also crossed state lines. The changes also removed records of 500,000 people who were considered "fugitives from justice" under the pre-2017 broader definition.

In an email to Lead Stories received May 2, 2023, Lindsay Nichols, policy director of the firearm legislation tracking group Giffords Law Center, said that claims that "Obama removed half a million Pedophiles from Government online databases" are inaccurate:

The change to the interpretation of 'fugitive from justice' occurred after Trump took office, in February 2017. It involved people who were subject to arrest warrants for all kinds of crimes (not just pedophilia).

Because of the Trump administration's narrow interpretation of the law that prohibits fugitives from justice from purchasing or possessing guns, the names of 500,000 people who were subject to arrest warrants were removed from NICS, the system used for gun purchaser background checks.

According to the FBI under the Trump administration, people subject to arrest warrants can only be included in NICS as 'fugitives from justice' if there is specific evidence that they fled from the state that issued the arrest warrant.

Under federal law, the Gun Control Act of 1968 (GCA) regulates who can buy or own a firearm. Part of this regulation includes NICS, a background check system created in 1998 that is now run by a subcomponent of the FBI. NICS collects descriptive data provided by a person, such as their name and date of birth, to search through three national FBI databases that contain criminal history and other records to determine whether a person is qualified to buy or own a firearm.

Included in the GCA -- and flagged by NICS -- is a prohibition on gun possession by a "fugitive from justice." Prior to 2017, a "fugitive from justice" was broadly defined as "any person who has fled from any State to avoid prosecution for a crime or to avoid giving testimony in any criminal proceeding." This definition was interpreted by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to include any person with an outstanding arrest warrant, allowing for a higher allotment of people to be flagged by the NICS system.

In 2017, the Trump administration issued guidance that narrowed the interpretation of a "fugitive from justice" in a memo that changed the definition to require that before issuing a denial, NICS must establish that a prospective purchaser:

1) has fled the state; 2) has done so to avoid prosecution for a crime or to avoid giving testimony in a criminal proceeding; and 3) is subject to a current or imminent prosecution or testimonial obligation.

The memo also invalidated the act of denying a NICS transaction "based on the existence of active warrant alone." It also ordered authorities to "immediately remove" all existing "fugitive from justice" entries -- approximately 500,000 records.

The FBI and the ATF refused to comment.

Lead Stories has also reported that there is no evidence the CIA has a "threat list" of 8 million people who will be detained or executed when martial law is imposed, that the IRS did not begin buying ammunition during President Joe Biden's time in office, and that the House of Representatives did not vote to criminalize disassembling, cleaning, and reassembling guns.

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  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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