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3 Key Democratic Claims on Guns Get Fact-Checked by WaPo — Here’s What They Found
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3 Key Democratic Claims on Guns Get Fact-Checked by WaPo — Here’s What They Found

"You can go down to a gun show...and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle."

In the week following the worst mass shooting in American history, politicians in Washington, D.C., particularly Democrats, have made numerous claims related to gun violence. But is any of what they're saying actually true, or just more talking points?

The Washington Post fact-checked three specific claims made by two Democratic senators, and found that, at least in these instances, there's more political rhetoric being stated than veracity.

An AR-15 is seen for sale on the wall at the National Armory gun store Jan. 13, 2013. (Joe Raedle)

Claim No. 1: More Gun Control=Less Gun Crime

“What we know is that in states that have imposed those reasonable limitations, there are less gun crimes. There are less homicides."

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) made this statement Wednesday during a speech on the Senate floor.

Murphy's staff told the Post that he was referring to a chart published by the National Journal in 2015, which shows the states that had the most "gun-related deaths" in 2013, the most recent year for which data were available, and whether those states require background checks, permits, waiting periods or have so-called "stand your ground" laws.

But because of how Murphy worded his claim, referring not to "gun-related deaths," which would include suicides, but to "gun crimes" and "homicides," the Post gave the claim three Pinocchios.

Claim No. 2: Expiration of Assault Weapons Ban Led to Hike in Mass Shootings

“AR-15-style weapons weren’t legal in the United States until 2004 after being banned for 10 years. It is not coincidental that there was a massive increase in mass shootings in this country after 2004.”

The problem with this claim, also made by Murphy on the same day as his previous statement, is that his staff couldn't point to any specific data to back up his assertion. In fact, the Post pointed to a 2004 report by the Justice Department, which found that impact  of the decade-long ban on so-called "assault weapons" was miniscule.

It further found that if the ban were to be renewed, as some in the Democratic Party, including President Barack Obama, are now calling for, the “likely effects on gun violence are likely to be small at best and perhaps too small for reliable measurement."

For this reason, the Washington Post gave the claim three Pinocchios.

Claim No. 3: Al Qaeda Spokesman Was Right, Machine Guns Are Easy to Get in the U.S.

“America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), quoting an  “al Qaeda spokesman," made this statement Wednesday during a speech on the Senate floor. Indeed, the Post dug up the clip of al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn saying this in 2011. Gadahn was later killed in a 2015 drone strike.

Here's the thing: Terrorists are known to lie. And when politicians quote terrorists without offering any clarification, it usually doesn't end well. This case is no different.

As the Post rightly pointed out, you really can't buy a "fully-automatic assault rifle" at a gun show. In fact, the Gun Control Act of 1968 already strictly regulates these purchases. Thus, Reid likely meant to say "semi-automatic" weapons, which are different from "full-automatic" firearms, in that semi-automatics require the shooter to pull the trigger once for every bullet.

The Washington Post assigned this claim two Pinocchios.

(H/T: Washington Post)

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