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Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher January 9, 2013

Son of Sikh temple mass shooting victim: 34 gun murders in U.S. each day

After his father and five other worshippers were killed Aug. 5, 2012, in a mass shooting at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin, Pardeep Kaleka joined a national campaign to address gun violence.

Kaleka’s father, Satwant Singh Kaleka, died trying to stop gunman Wade Michael Page, who also wounded four other people, including a police officer, before killing himself.

Pardeep Kaleka took part in promoting Demand a Plan, an effort to press President Barack Obama and Congress to develop a plan to counter gun violence.

Kaleka spoke in a one-minute video posted on Demand a Plan’s website on Dec. 17, 2012 -- two months after three people were shot to death at a suburban Milwaukee salon and three days after 26 people were gunned down at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn.

He ended his plea by saying:

"Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns. That’s 48,000 Americans murdered with guns during President Obama’s next term. I need to know what our leaders are going to do to stop the gun violence. I demand a plan."

Let’s check the 34 Americans murdered figure, a statistic repeated by Kaleka’s brother, Amardeep Kaleka, in his own video on the website.

Shootings spurred campaign

The shooting at the Sikh temple, located in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek, is one of at least 62 mass shootings in the U.S. in the past 30 years, according to a December 2012 article in Mother Jones. Most of the killers were mentally ill and obtained their guns legally, the liberal magazine reported.

Demand a Plan was launched in July 2012 after 12 people were shot dead earlier that month at a movie theater in Aurora, Colo. The sponsor of the campaign is Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a national group that includes Oak Creek Mayor Steve Scaffidi and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The mayors group, headed by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, backs legislation that would, among other things, require every gun buyer to pass a criminal background check; and ban military-style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Similar claim checked

The claim Kaleka makes in his video was also made in December 2012 by Democrat Cory Booker, the mayor of Newark, N.J., on ABC's "This Week with George Stephanapoulos." PolitiFact New Jersey rated it Mostly True.

Our colleagues found that, between 2005 and 2009, an average of 34 Americans were killed by guns each day. The figure, which doesn't include suicides or accidents, is from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

But more recent figures from the CDC, which tracks the causes of deaths for U.S. residents, had been released in September 2012. The newer figures show that, for 2006 through 2010, the five-year rolling average for gun homicides dropped to 33.

In 2010 alone, there were 31,672 gun-related deaths, including 19,392 suicides and 11,078 homicides. The remaining deaths were classified as unintentional (606), undetermined (252), or legal intervention/war (344).

PolitiFact New Jersey also pointed out that, on an annual basis, the gun homicide figure is dropping. An average of 30 people were killed in 2010 and the preliminary figure for 2011 is also 30.

That's down from the average of 35 in 2006, the highest year of the decade.

Erika Soto Lamb, a spokeswoman for Demand a Plan, told us the number of gun homicides might be declining because of improvements in medical care have resulted in more lives being saved.

She cited a December 2012 news article in The Wall Street Journal. The article said that the number of people shot in the U.S. is increasing, but the percentage who die is decreasing. The article quoted experts as saying improvement in medical care is a major factor in the decline in gun homicides.

Our rating

As part of a national campaign to address gun violence, Pardeep Kaleka, the son of a Wisconsin gun homicide victim, said: "Every day, 34 Americans are murdered with guns."

The average for 2010, the most recent year for which complete figures are available, was 30. But the latest rolling five-year average, the type of measure Kaleka used, was 33, slightly less than what Kaleka claimed.

We rate his statement Mostly True.

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Son of Sikh temple mass shooting victim: 34 gun murders in U.S. each day

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