FACT CHECK.ORG – GOP Convention, Day 2 – By Lori Robertson Posted on July 20, 2016

The speakers went too far in their claims on guns, Benghazi, coal jobs, Keystone and more.

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CLEVELAND — The theme of the second night of the Republican convention was “Make America Work Again,” but the false and misleading claims we flagged touched on topics beyond the economy and jobs:

  • Donald Trump Jr. distorted Clinton’s gun control proposal, claiming, as his father did, that she wants to “take away Americans’ guns.” Clinton’s gun control proposal doesn’t call for taking away guns.
  • Two speakers claimed that Clinton paid women less than men in her Senate office. That’s true if one includes only workers who worked for Clinton full-time for a full year, but it’s not accurate if including workers who worked part of the year or took unpaid leaves of absences.
  • Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson and former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey both mentioned Clinton’s “what difference does it make” quote on Benghazi, but left out the context of that remark. Clinton didn’t say that the loss of life in Benghazi didn’t make a difference.
  • Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia took Clinton’s words on coal-mining jobs out of context. Capito said Clinton “promised to devastate communities and families across coal country.” But Clinton said she wants to bring renewable energy jobs to coal country to replace lost coal jobs.
  • Capito used a one-sided report and back-of-the-envelope calculation to claim that “the burden of government regulations in this country amounts to $15,000 a household.” And she exaggerated the number of coal mining jobs that have been lost since 2011, putting the figure at 60,000, when it’s 36,700.
  • Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wrongly said that Clinton was for the Keystone XL pipeline before she was against it. She did not take a position until she opposed the pipeline in 2015.
  • Capito also said the Obama “economic agenda” has led to “the lowest workforce participation in decades,” but the rate began its decline in the late 1990s and is due mainly to baby boomers retiring and other demographic factors. The unemployment rate, meanwhile, is below the historical norm.
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions claimed that “respect for America has fallen,” but the U.S. is viewed more favorably in many countries now than it was before President Obama took office.
  • Donald Trump Jr. also wrongly said that his father “funded his entire primary run out of his own pocket.” Trump provided about 73 percent of the funding, but not all of it.

Note to Readers

Our managing editor, Lori Robertson, is on the scene in Cleveland. This story was written with the help of the entire staff, based in Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. Next week, we will dispatch our staffers in Philadelphia for the Democratic convention. We intend to vet the major speeches at both conventions for factual accuracy, applying the same standards to both.


A gun lover’s case for gun control: Not all of us believe in the right to bear assault weapons – RON COOPER

Extremists are shouting over gun owners like me who favor reasonable restrictions on firearms like the AR-15

A gun lover's case for gun control: Not all of us believe in the right to bear assault weapons

I grew up in a family of hunters. My father gave me a .22 rifle and a single-shot .410 shotgun when I was six years old. When my uncles (sometimes an aunt or two) and older cousins got together on a Sunday afternoon, at least one of them had a new gun to show off. The young kids like me were expected to share in the love, and respect, for firearms. I learned about marksmanship, which gun was best for which sort of hunting, that you never use more firepower than is necessary, and most of all, gun safety.

Although I quit hunting years ago (something that most of my relatives found bewildering), I continue to love guns. I like the cool feel of the steel and fruity scent of the oil. I like the hard, metallic clacks of a chamber opening or a clip plunging into place. I like to go to the firing range to squeeze the trigger, receive the recoil, hear the pop, and smell the puff of gunpowder. I like knowing that if an intruder threatens my home, I can protect my family.

I can do all of these things without an assault weapon.

With each tragic mass shooting like the recent one at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando the gun control debate resurrects with renewed vigor. Like most social concerns, the loudest voices tend to be from camps at the opposite poles of the issue’s spectrum. One group says that gun ownership is the shank of the problem and calls for severe restrictions on who can own firearms, how many, and what types—the “Guns kill!” camp. The other end sees any restriction as producing a slippery slope that will lead to overturning the second amendment—the “They’re coming for our guns!” group. The result of such for-me-or-agin-me opposition results in gridlock when legislators consider suggestions for reducing the number of the tragic shooting that keep us all in fear. I believe that the majority of gun owners want reasonable steps, such as banning assault-style weapons, to make our country safer.

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Dan Gross: Why gun violence can’t be our new normal – Filmed February 2016 at TED2016

It doesn’t matter whether you love or hate guns; it’s obvious that the US would be a safer place if there weren’t thousands of them sold every day without background checks. Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, makes a passionate, personal appeal for something that more than 90 percent of Americans want: background checks for all gun sales. “For every great movement around the world, there’s a moment where you can look back and say, ‘That’s when things really started to change,'” Gross says. “For the movement to end gun violence in America, that moment is here.”

America’s Deadly Gun Addiction, By the Numbers |  JOANNA PEARLSTEIN. 02.21.16. 11:30 AM

The US is home to more guns than adults; more folks own guns here than in any other nation; and the US has the most gun deaths per capita than any other advanced country.

Source: America’s Deadly Gun Addiction, By the Numbers | WIRED

Here’s Why Guns Sell When Obama Talks Gun Control – by Robert Hackett JANUARY 5, 2016, 1:24 PM EST

There is a correlation.

When President Obama rallies in favor of stricter firearm regulations, guns sell.

Case in point: Gunmakers had one of their best months ever in December, according to an analysis of federal background check data by the New York Times, immediately following the President’s call for tougher assault weapon purchasing measures after the mass shooting in San Bernardino, Calif.

During that month, sales spiked as high as 1.6 million guns sold, leading firearm manufacturers such as Smith & Wesson SWHC 11.08% recently to mark up their revenue projections.

Another one of the industry’s top-performing months followed the President’s gun control-promoting remarks after a mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in Dec. 2012. By the next month, 2 million guns had been sold, according to the Times. (The data on which the Times’ analysis rests can be found here.)

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President Obama’s boldest action on guns yet, explained – Updated by German Lopez on January 4, 2016, 6:35 p.m. ET

k Obama in the Oval Office.  -- Mark Wilson/Getty Images

k Obama in the Oval Office. — Mark Wilson/Getty Images

After high-profile mass shootings, President Barack Obama has urged the American people to call on Congress to pass measures that would restrict access to guns and, hopefully, reduce gun violence. But after multiple pleas, Congress hasn’t acted, even after the grisly mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012.

So Obama is now acting on his own — with executive actions.

Obama met with Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday to consider what he can do without congressional legislation to reduce gun violence in America, which kills many more people in the US than other developed nations. In a press conference after the meeting, White House officials announced a plan they had been working on for months behind the scenes to address gun violence.

The changes will attempt to close what’s widely (but misleadingly) known as the “gun show loophole,” as well as increase the efficiency of the federal background check system to avoid cases from falling through. The executive actions will also take smaller steps, ranging from improving the tracking of lost or stolen guns to encouraging technological improvements to, in theory, make firearms safer.

This would not be the first time Obama has taken executive action on guns. In 2013, after Congress failed to pass gun control legislation following the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, Obama signed 23 executive actions and then a few follow-up actions that generally tightened the background check system.

But Obama’s latest actions appear to be the boldest, touching on one of the longest-running issues with federal gun control laws and a broader hot-button debate about what to do about America’s extraordinary levels of gun violence.

There are risks to Obama acting without congressional approval. Critics of the administration have already suggested that they will challenge new executive actions in court. Not getting legislation in the books also means that a President Ted Cruz (or Marco Rubio, Donald Trump, and so on) could unilaterally reverse Obama’s actions. Shortly before the announcement of the plan, a congressional Republican also threatened to block funding for the Justice Department to stop the executive actions.

The Obama administration has pushed on anyway, arguing in an email, “The president has made clear the most impactful way to address the crisis of gun violence in our country is for Congress to pass some common sense gun safety measures. But the president has also said he’s fully aware of the unfortunate political realities in this Congress. That is why he has asked his team to scrub existing legal authorities to see if there’s any additional action we can take administratively.”

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How Many People Have Been Shot in Your Neighborhood This Year? – Update, Dec. 31, 2015: 

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at Dec 31, 2015 1.19

The map has been updated to show all recorded shootings in 2015.

In relentless succession, a parade of towns and cities has this year joined the ranks of American mass shooting locations. The mere mention of the places—Charleston, South Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Colorado Springs, Colorado; San Bernardino, California—evokes images made familiar at Columbine, Colorado, and Blacksburg, Virginia, and Tucson, Arizona, and Newtown, Connecticut: the police battalions rushing to respond, the shocked survivors and bereft loved ones, the eerie portraits of newly infamous killers.

But the truth is that these cities and towns and the events that now define them, however lethal they were and however large they understandably loom, constitute just a small fraction of the gun violence recorded in America during this or any year. In 2013, the most recent year for which government statistics are available, less than 2 percent of more than 33,000 gun deaths in the country were due to mass shootings. Tallies of gun-related fatalities are in turn dwarfed by totals for gun injuries. Every 12 months, more than 130,000 people are shot; many are left with devastating physical impairments and crippling health care bills.

Leaflet | Map tiles by CartoDB, under CC BY 3.0. Data by OpenStreetMap, under ODbL.

Thanks to a nonprofit, nonpartisan project known as the Gun Violence Archive, data on gun homicides and nonfatal shootings is now available well before the federal government releases its statistics. Those data include location information that makes it possible to plot those shootings on a map showing how many have taken place in your vicinity.

Violent crime has fallen drastically since the 1990s, but guns stubbornly claim a disproportionate share of American misery, with the rate of firearms-related death largely holding steady for the past 15 years. That grim constancy has come as regulation, industry safety improvements, and public health campaigns have reduced the mortality of other products. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tables show that in 2013, guns killed 3,428  more people than falls, 4,635 more people than alcohol, and 30,876 more people than fires. Researchers have forecastthat 2015 will be the year that bullets kill more Americans than car accidents, which had long been the leading cause of injury death in the U.S.

Rarely does routine gun violence make the front pages. Always, there are Americans for whom it hits home. That may be the volunteer EMS crew in Imperial, Nebraska, who lost longtime member Dave Ridlen to a rifle accident in early November. Or the Carthage, Texas, family robbed of a 22-year-old son after Jonathan Todd Williams was asked by his father to answer a knock at the door, only to be blown away. It includes the South Carolina grandmother killed in her car when her 2-year-old grandson found a  loaded revolver in the back seat. Or the eight members of Valerie Jackson’s family, including six children, all murdered by her ex-boyfriend David Conley, who acquired a gun online despite being prohibited from owning one. But even as gun violence occurs all over the country, its burdens are unequally distributed. In parts of cities like St. Louis, Chicago, and Baltimore—not to mention forgotten parts of cities like Charleston, Chattanooga, and San Bernardino—shots ring out with terrifying frequency and density, without drawing CNN’s broadcast trucks or prompting the president to step up to a podium.

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No, There Has Not Been a Mass Shooting Every Day This Year – —By Mark Follman | Fri Dec. 18, 2015 6:00 AM EST

This inflated stat all over the media isn’t just misleading—it’s stirring undue fear.


Take a moment to consider what type of violent event that headline just brought to mind. The places and horrifying attacks you likely recalled surface instantly for most of us when we see or hear the term “mass shooting”—Columbine and Virginia Tech. Aurora and Sandy Hook. Charleston and San Bernardino.

Even as these mass shootings have grown more frequent and loom large in our consciousness, they are a tiny fraction of America’s gun violence and remain relatively rare. Yet many news outlets keep declaring that there have been upwards of “355 mass shootings this year” or “more than one mass shooting per day.” Many gun control advocates say the same.

This wildly inflated statistic isn’t just misleading the public—it’s stirring undue fear and may be encouraging bad policies.

Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them—and we can’t know, unless we focus on useful data.

In fact, there have been four mass shootings this year. Or, if you count using the federal government’s current criteria—three or more victims killed in an indiscriminate public rampage—there have been six mass shootings this year.

I recently wrote in the New York Times about the dubious methodology behind the “mass shootings every day” claim—essentially, an anonymous guy on Reddit made it up—and why it makes little sense in the context of Sandy Hook or San Bernardino:

What explains the vastly different count? The answer is that there is no official definition for “mass shooting.” Almost all of the gun crimes behind the much larger statistic are less lethal and bear little relevance to the type of public mass murder we have just witnessed again. Including them in the same breath suggests that a 1 a.m. gang fight in a Sacramento restaurant, in which two were killed and two injured, is the same kind of event as a deranged man walking into a community college classroom and massacring nine and injuring nine others. Or that a late-night shooting on a street in Savannah, Ga., yesterday that injured three and killed one is in the same category as the madness that just played out in Southern California.

While all the victims are important, conflating those many other crimes with indiscriminate slaughter in public venues obscures our understanding of this complicated and growing problem. Everyone is desperate to know why these attacks happen and how we might stop them—and we can’t know, unless we collect and focus on useful data that filter out the noise…

There is value in collecting those stories as a blunt measure of gun violence involving multiple victims. But as those numbers gain traction in the news media, they distort our understanding. According to our research at Mother Jones—subsequently corroborated by the FBI—the more narrowly defined mass shootings have grown more frequent, and overwhelmingly involve legally obtained firearms. Experts in the emerging field of threat assessment believe that this is a unique phenomenon that must be understood on its own.

I think the ongoing debate about how to track and study mass shootings is healthy and valuable. It reflects a greater focus on the problem, beyond the fleeting sensational news cycles. I’d like to expand on why I believe using the term “mass shooting” too broadly is misguided. I’ll also respond to some of the criticisms of Mother Jones‘ approach, and suggest a couple of ideas for further work on this subject.

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Obama meets with Bloomberg to talk guns – By Jordan Fabian – 12/16/15 07:51 PM EST

President Obama on Wednesday met with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an ally of the White House on gun control.

The meeting, which was not on the president’s public schedule, comes as he is weighing new executive action on guns in response to a series of mass shootings that have marred his presidency.

Obama huddled with Bloomberg “as part of the administration’s continuing push to address gun violence in America,” the White House said in a statement.

“The two discussed ways to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have access to them and what more could be done at the state and local level to help address gun violence in America,” the White House added.

Senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, a close Obama confidante who has spearheaded the White House’s gun-control push, also attended the meeting.

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Dems shift terror debate to guns – BY CRISTINA MARCOS December 13, 2015 – 06:00 AM EST

Democrats are seeking to limit the political fallout from the attack in San Bernardino, Calif., by pressing for legislation that would prevent terrorism suspects from buying a gun.



Leaders in the party think they have a winning message in pushing legislation that would ban gun sales to people on the federal terror watch list, and have made the bill a focal point of their response to the shooting.

Throughout the week, House Democrats repeatedly interrupted floor proceedings with protest procedural votes aimed at calling attention to the measure authored by Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.). Senate Democrats and the White House have talked up the bill as well.

The aggressive push underscores Democrats’ desire to address public fears about terrorism without attacking President Obama, who is under fire from the GOP for his handling of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

“I think it does resonate with people right now when there’s obviously enormous concern around the wake of the Paris attacks, and now this attack, that it seems hard to imagine that it would be the law. That you would legally be allowed to buy a weapon when you can’t even get on an airplane,” said Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.), who represents the district where a deadly shooting took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School three years ago.

“When we don’t know, when in doubt, we should not proceed to sell them a gun,” Esty said.

The drumbeat of Democratic activity around the issue has been constant.

House Democrats filed a discharge petition to attempt to force a vote, held press conferences, compelled votes on motions to adjourn to stall scheduled floor proceedings, and backed a resolution from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to force a vote.

Pelosi’s privileged resolution, which under House rules had to be debated immediately, argued that the lack of votes on gun-control legislation in response to mass shootings threatened “the integrity of the legislative process.”

“By refusing to act, we disgrace the House, we dishonor the American people, and we erode America’s faith in our democracy,” Pelosi said.

The House rejected Pelosi’s measure in a largely party line 242-173 procedural vote.

Senate Democrats have used similar tactics.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) offered an amendment to an ObamaCare repeal bill last week that would allow the attorney general to block a gun sale to a terrorist suspect. But it failed in a 45-54 vote.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) also tried to pass the measure again this week by unanimous consent, but was blocked by Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). The Texas Republican suggested amending the legislation so that the government could delay a terror suspect from buying a gun for up to 72 hours while obtaining a court to approve blocking the sale, but Democrats objected.


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