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Lots of readers have written us to sound off recently. Here's a sampling. (Marcin Wichary, via Flickr Creative Commons) Lots of readers have written us to sound off recently. Here's a sampling. (Marcin Wichary, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Lots of readers have written us to sound off recently. Here's a sampling. (Marcin Wichary, via Flickr Creative Commons)

Jon Greenberg
By Jon Greenberg May 27, 2022

Our fact-check on President Joe Biden’s claim about mass shooting deaths rising after the assault weapon ban expired in 2004 sparked a generally well-informed debate from a variety of viewpoints, particularly on reddit

After a draft Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade leaked, our explanation of the legislative options drew a couple of comments about the power of the Supreme Court. 

We also heard from you about the Republican charge that Democrats seek an open border with Mexico. And, we read some broader reflections about the number of outlandish Facebook claims that we take the time to check.

On that last point, we’ll just note that we check claims that are getting a fair bit of traffic. So, maybe some people skip right over these posts, but other people are definitely reading them.

Biden on the assault weapon ban of 1994

The claim: "When we passed the assault weapons ban, mass shootings went down. When the law expired, mass shootings tripled." Mostly True

One person wrote, "If there’s no strong evidence that a ban made a change in numbers of mass shootings, then what’s the point? Correlation means nothing without strong evidence, so this entire article is just misleading. I’m all for making new policies to prevent deaths and other mass shootings, but I’d rather those policies be based on facts and empirical data and not unsubstantiated and misleading data."

Another added, "This is frustrating because 'Mostly True’ is about the fact stated by the quote, but most people are interpreting it as transitive to the implication of the quote. To wit, it is ‘mostly true’ that expiration of the ban caused the rise in shootings. (And so we should bring back the ban to cause shootings to decline—which also plays to our intuition: fewer guns = fewer mass shootings, right?) But even the fact check article clearly states that no studies have found a causal link between the ban and the fall in shootings. They’ve only found a correlation."

And a third person wrote, "I'm really curious what different metrics people are using for ‘mass shooting’ events. Because this often sourced website says there were 4,600 mass shootings since 2013, while this report is only counting 500 events for the entire period from 1994-2013. That's a massive disparity, and I think any report should have these qualifications described front and center anytime we're comparing one report to another, since it could make a massive difference at how the data appears."

The leaked Roe v. Wade Supreme Court ruling

We published many stories and fact-checks about abortion and Roe v. Wade. A reader told us, "In your assessment of the proposed Supreme Court ruling, you neglected to point out that Congress is the law-creating body in this country, with the confirmation of the sitting president. It was never the purpose of the Supreme Court to create laws, therefore making Roe v. Wade not law at all. I would guess that 90% of the citizens are not aware of this important fact."

Another person wrote that our article, "Why Democrats’ control of the White House and Congress isn't enough to pass law protecting abortion," neglects another obstacle in codifying Roe: "Codified laws are subject to review by the Supreme Court, just as they review precedent. Democrats may pass a law that may be challenged, and the Supreme Court could rule it unconstitutional and strike it. The Supreme Court deserves its name."

Open borders

The claim: Republican Senate candidate Blake Masters said, "Democrats want open borders so they can bring in and amnesty tens of millions of illegal aliens — that’s their electoral strategy." False

A reader said, "Immigration reform proposals from Democrats often are a compromise of creating a pathway to citizenship where undocumented immigrants who are already here can get citizenship, but only after a decade or more of waiting to get a green card, and then close to another decade of waiting after that. I guess you could call that amnesty in a sense. But it's not ‘open borders’, and the proposals also often pair that ‘amnesty’ with much tougher enforcement of undocumented immigration and the border."

On strange claims

We check all sorts of claims, and no question, some are way out there. Like COVID-19 is a synthetic version of "snake venom." Or, evil forces are spreading through remdesivir, the COVID-19 vaccines and drinking water to "make you a hybrid of Satan." And, "Breaking: Democrats introduce bill to put Americans in quarantine camps."

We suspect that claims like these were on this reader’s mind when he said, "I've noticed that many, many statements you are now fact-checking are so bizarrely improbable they read more like ‘The Onion.’ It is a sad state of affairs when you are having to fact-check stuff even more ridiculous than ‘an alien weed-whacker abducted my front lawn.’ Are people really so credulous now?" 

And more in a policy vein, this reader complained, "I supported PolitiFact for a while, during the absurd statements of the last few years.  But, it appears mostly focused on fact-checking the most absurd extreme positions and statements. Most outstanding government social issues are complex and the details matter. Not just a buzzword or slogan that is right or wrong. I would be very supportive of a site that offers complex highlights of complex government or social issues."

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Mailbag: The Uvalde shooting and gun control, Roe v. Wade, open borders, and more