Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Truth-O-Meter has checked gun claims by NJ Democrats

U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg speaks on the Senate floor on April 26.
U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg speaks on the Senate floor on April 26.

President Obama has unveiled a $500 million plan to address gun violence in the United States that looks at research, background searches and more.

With gun control at the forefront of the news, PolitiFact New Jersey is taking a look back at six past fact-checks that deal with that particular issue.

In total, the Truth-O-Meter has fact-checked eight claims about guns made by six Democrats.

Two claims came from Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

In July 2012, Lautenberg said in an op-ed column in The Record that gun violence claimed more American lives in the United States than on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. "In support of the two wars, more than 6,500 American soldiers have lost their lives. During the same period, however, guns have been used to murder about 100,000 people on American soil," he said. Experts told us that although Lautenberg’s numbers were on target, he used raw numbers to compare two different populations, and he also didn’t note that many more people than Americans have died in both wars. His claim was Half True.

While speaking on the Senate floor in April 2012, Lautenberg said those convicted of domestic violence and banned from owning a gun can still get a firearm through what’s known as the gun show loophole. "In our gun laws we’re allowing domestic abusers to sidestep this ban on getting a gun. The loophole allows a convicted abuser to walk into a gun show and walk out with a gun, no questions asked," Lautenberg said. That’s a True claim. Those who buy firearms at a gun show are not subject to the same background checks required by federally licensed firearms sellers.

Newark Mayor Cory Booker talked about gun violence during a Dec. 23, 2012 roundtable appearance on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos," where guests discussed the Newton, Conn. shooting that left 20 children and six adults dead. Booker claimed that "34 people (are) murdered every single day." Booker’s number was off slightly, making his claim Mostly True.

Two other New Jersey politicians made statements about guns in the wake of a July 20, 2012 shooting inside a Colorado movie theater that left 12 dead and more than 50 people injured.

Sen. Bob Menendez said during a July 24, 2012 news conference in Washington, DC, that under federal law, "we do not have any limitation on the number of guns and bullets we can buy." The claim was True.

Rep. Rush Holt also weighed in after the Colorado shooting, saying in a July 20, 2012 e-mail newsletter that "each day more than 80 Americans are killed by gunfire, unnecessary tragedies." Holt got a Half True for his claim because while his number was accurate, suicides represented a significant majority of that figure.

Rep. Bill Pascrell said during a November 2011 House hearing that "we haven’t had any legislation which took away one gun in the past 20 years from anybody in this country – not one." But the Truth-O-Meter found that depends on how one defines "take away." The claim was rated Half True.

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