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Truth-O-Meter rings Mostly False, Half True for weekend claims on debt, guns

By Caryn Shinske
Published on Tuesday, January 10th, 2012 at 7:30 a.m.

The Truth-O-Meter took a discerning eye this weekend to claims about U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s role in the nation’s debt and U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell’s assertion that no federal legislation in the past 20 years has taken guns away from people.

In case you missed it, Anna Little, a potential Republican challenger to Menendez, a Democrat, received a Mostly False rating Sunday on her claim that New Jersey’s junior senator voted to increase the debt ceiling and helped put the United States in $15 trilion worth of debt. Pascrell (D-8th) received a Half True rating Monday for his claim about legislation and guns.

Little claim

On Dec. 29, Little, a former Monmouth County freeholder, posted on her campaign website -- "Little for Senate" - - a message entitled "Stop Debt! Stop Bob Menendez!"

"Bob Menendez just voted to increase the government's debt ceiling to $1.9 TRILLION! In his 19 years in Congress, Menendez has helped overspend America over $15 TRILLION into debt," the message continued. "Who will pay? Your children? Your grandchildren? Menendez doesn't seem to care."

But PolitiFact New Jersey found that Menendez voted against the most recent debt ceiling increase and has opposed some of the legislation that experts say contributed to the rising federal debt. The senator has, however, voted for other bills that helped put the United States in greater debt.

Pascrell claim

During a House hearing in November on the National Right-To-Carry Reciprocity Act of 2011, Pascrell said in opposition to the bill, "We haven't had any legislation which took away one gun in the past 20 years from anybody in this country--not one."

PolitiFact New Jersey looked at two of the most significant gun laws from that timeframe and found the congressman’s claim Half True. We agreed that the federal crime bill of 1994 doesn’t take guns from people since those who had certain weapons prior to them being banned under the law were allowed to keep them. But we found that The Domestic Violence Gun Ban, more commonly known as the Lautenberg Amendment for its author, Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), could be construed as taking guns from their owners. That’s because someone who legally possesses a gun and subsequently is convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence must surrender the gun  to another person legally allowed to possess it or to law enforcement. Even though the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives maintains that  the person’s actions -- not the law -- forces the handing over of the gun, PolitiFact New Jersey found that  could be construed as taking someone’s gun away.

What’s ahead

In coming weeks we will introduce a free email newsletter for readers to learn more about claims that we’re working on and what’s ahead, as well as spotlighting reader feedback. If you’re interested in receiving the newsletter, submitting an idea for a possible fact-check or having PolitiFact New Jersey do a presentation for your organization or school, drop a note to PolitiFact New Jersey Editor Caryn Shinske at cshinske@starledger.com. You can also follow us on Twitter @PolitiFactNJ or find us on Facebook. 

About this article:


PolitiFact New Jersey, Bob Menendez attacked by GOP challenger over federal debt increases, Jan. 8, 2012

PolitiFact New Jersey, Bill Pascrell claims no legislation has taken guns away from Americans in past 20 years, Jan. 9, 2012

Researchers: Caryn Shinske

Names in this article: Anna Little, Robert Menendez, Bill Pascrell

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