Traverse City Record-Eagle


January 4, 2014

Fact Check: Gun control year-end report


One of the most interesting examples is that Vice President Joe Biden said that since Newtown, more people died by gunshot than have died in the entirety of the war in Afghanistan. We rated his claim True after finding that at least twice as many people were killed by guns as in the 12 years of war.

Following Newtown, President Barack Obama released a plan to reduce gun violence through methods like strengthening background checks, getting more dangerous weapons off the streets and securing schools. Also of note is that the White House called to “end the freeze on gun violence research.”

Legislative trends

While it’s tough to get all the facts on guns, one aspect of the debate is more clear-cut: legislation.

One point of contention is background checks. Are background checks effective in preventing gun purchases? Some conservatives say no due to a low number of prosecutions of prospective customers. However, citing that talking point leaves out the fact that a significant number of customers with previous felony convictions are blocked through background checks (but just not prosecuted).

We’ve rated several of these claims Half True or Mostly False because of the way they try to slant federal gun policy during the Obama administration.

Do most Americans even support background checks? Well, yes, as Obama pointed out in a statement we rated Mostly True based on Quinnipiac University poll results.

In April, a background check amendment sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Pat Toomey, R-Pa., would have expanded background checks to gun shows and Internet sales. But it fell six votes short of passing the Senate.

There’s still a lot of confusion surrounding the issue. Manchin claimed his bill didn’t pass because people hadn’t read it.

Meanwhile, claims about the bill omitted part of the truth, like Marco Rubio’s PAC ad, which said that Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R.-N.H., had voted in favor of fixing background checks. Ayotte actually voted against Manchin’s bill, though she did support an alternative bill that wasn’t considered as strong. We rated the ad’s claim Half True.

In a way, the most memorable part of federal gun legislation in 2013 is that the Senate shut it down.

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