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Hoax Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gun control meme spreads to African countries

“Owning guns is not a right... If it were a right, it would be in the Constitution.” A meme attributing this quote to new US member of Congress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been doing the rounds on Facebook – even in South Africa.

Ocasio-Cortez is a left-leaning Democrat who describes herself as a democratic socialist. At 29 she’s the youngest woman in history to be elected to Congress. And after only a few weeks in office she’s shown she isn’t afraid to speak her mind.

But the quote is a hoax.

It hasn’t appeared in any news articles or interviews. Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website discusses gun control, and it’s clear she’s well informed on the issue.

The congresswoman is aware that the second amendment to the US constitution gives citizens the right to own and bear firearms. But she thinks strong gun control laws would “cut gun violence significantly without running afoul of the second amendment”.

In a June 2017 Reddit AMA - “ask me anything” - session, Ocasio-Cortez said she believed in the second amendment but thought “the severely mentally ill and people with a history of domestic abuse” should not be allowed to buy guns.

‘Attempt to discredit’ Ocasio-Cortez

In January 2019 US fact-checking sites Snopes and Politifact debunked the meme as a hoax.

“Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has been the subject of a number of false rumours and accusations since she became the youngest woman elected to congress,” wrote Snopes fact-checker Dan Evon.

“This is not a genuine quote from Ocasio-Cortez. It was fabricated and spread in an attempt to discredit the New York congresswoman.”

Politifact rated the image as “pants on fire” – an outright lie – in its fact-check.

“We didn’t find any credible sources corroborating the Facebook post,” Politifact’s Ciara O'Rourke wrote. “It's a hoax.” – Africa Check (20/02/19)


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