High 5: Most-clicked fact checks include guns, Paul Ryan, governor's race

A group named for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords claimed Paul Ryan blocked all actions to strengthen gun laws.
A group named for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords claimed Paul Ryan blocked all actions to strengthen gun laws.
Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (left) and Wisconsin state schools superintendent Tony Evers, a Democratic candidate for governor, each made a claim that was among our-most clicked fact checks.
Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (left) and Wisconsin state schools superintendent Tony Evers, a Democratic candidate for governor, each made a claim that was among our-most clicked fact checks.

Sustained interest in gun fact checks competed with interest in two high-profile election campaigns at PolitiFact Wisconsin in April 2018.

Two of the High Five -- our items with the most page-views during the month -- were on claims made in the wake of the Florida school shooting on Feb. 14, 2018.

But there were also many clicks for our collection of fact checks in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race, which was the top race on the April 2018 ballot; and for two fact checks in the campaign for governor, which is one of the top races on the November 2018 ballot.

Here’s the High Five rundown.

1. Giffords PAC: "Paul Ryan has blocked all action to strengthen our gun laws."

Our rating: Mostly False.

The anti-gun violence political action committee, named for former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., cited a dozen gun control measures that didn’t get to a vote in the House.

So, it’s clear that Ryan, the Republican House speaker from Wisconsin, did not move to bring those measures to the floor.

But that’s not the same as Ryan himself blocking the measures, given that other lawmakers, such as committee chairs, also have such power.

Also, a bill that would strengthen background checks did pass the House -- although it also expanded gun rights, by making it legal for licensed concealed carry holders to bring guns across state lines.

2. Fact checks on Rebecca Dallet and Michael Screnock in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race

We published this roundup of fact checks involving the two high court candidates several days before the election.

The race, won by Dallet, was the highest-profile race on the spring ballot.

Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter: @PolitiFactWisc

3. Tony Evers says that despite a recent increase in school funding, Scott Walker "has taken over a billion dollars from the public schools."

Our rating: Mostly False.

This claim was made in the campaign for governor by Evers, the state schools superintendent and a Democratic candidate for governor. Walker, the GOP incumbent, is seeking a third term.

In Walker’s first year as governor, we found, he cut school aid by $426.5 million from the previous year --, the final year that his predecessor, Democrat Jim Doyle, served as governor.

Because it took five years to get school funding back to that base level, it can be argued that Walker "took" a total of $1.17 billion from schools over that period.

But since then, Walker has increased school funding to the point that the deficit, in comparison to the base year, is $183.6 million.

4. Walker: "Our bold reforms have Wisconsin’s unemployment rate down to an all-time LOW of 2.9 percent, and the number of people working at an all-time HIGH!"

Our rating: Half True.

Walker was correct on the two statistics. But his various reforms can only be considered to be a contributing factor, at most, given many factors that affect the state’s economy.

5. Jeff Greenfield: "In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last twenty years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since January 1."

Our rating: Mostly False.

Greenfield, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate and a longtime network TV commentator, made the claim on the day of school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

By one count widely cited in the news media, there had been 18 incidents in which shots were fired inside or outside of a school or university building in the United States to that point in 2018. But only three involved a mass shooting. And the count included two suicides, three accidental shootings and nine incidents in which there were no fatalities or injuries.

As for the rest of the world, Greenfield had no evidence to back up that part of his claim. And an expert relied on by the New York Times for gun violence statistics told us there is no way to know how many school shootings -- using the definition Greenfield relies on -- have occurred outside of the United States over the past 20 years.

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