High Five: Most-clicked include Florida school shooting, Hillary Clinton's 'backwards' statement

Friends Julia Craig (left) and Ravina Sachdev, high school juniors in suburban Milwaukee, agreed to disagree on a national march planned after the Florida school shooting. Sachdev participated, Craig didn't. (Annysa Johnson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)
Friends Julia Craig (left) and Ravina Sachdev, high school juniors in suburban Milwaukee, agreed to disagree on a national march planned after the Florida school shooting. Sachdev participated, Craig didn't. (Annysa Johnson/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

The aftermath of the Valentine’s Day school shooting in Parkland, Fla.,  drove much of the traffic to PolitiFact Wisconsin during March 2018.

In our High Five most-clicked items during the month, three were related to guns.

Statements by the two major Democratic candidates for president in 2016 also drew many page views.

Here’s a review.

1. The National Rifle Association was "founded by religious leaders who wanted to protect freed slaves from the Ku Klux Klan."

Our rating: Pants on Fire.

The statement was made in 2013 by Harry Alford, president and chief executive officer of the D.C.-based National Black Chamber of Commerce, and was posted on the website of the Milwaukee County Republican Party.

Our guess is it gained new attention because of the Feb. 14, 2018, school shooting in Florida that left 17 people dead.

The NRA itself says the group was formed by Union Civil War veterans to improve soldiers’ marksmanship. And we found no evidence that religious leaders founded the NRA to protect freed slaves from the KKK.

2. "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.

This claim was made on the day of the Florida school shooting by longtime network TV journalist and author Jeff Greenfield, a University of Wisconsin-Madison alumnus.

By one count widely cited in the news media, at the time there had been 18 incidents in which shots were fired inside or outside of a school or university building in the United States so far 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 -- had occurred outside of the United States over the past 20 years.

3, Did Hillary Clinton call Wisconsin 'backwards'?

This was an In Context article, in which we fleshed out a sound bite from Clinton that was quickly pounced on by the Republican Governors Association, partly to boost the re-election campaign of GOP Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker.

Our article laid out how the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee didn’t specifically mention Wisconsin, though arguably she alluded to it when making her "backwards" remark.

4. "The Koch brothers have given" Paul Ryan "$500,000 in campaign contributions."

Our rating: Half True.

This statement was made by Clinton’s rival for the 2016 nomination, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. He made the statement while campaigning for Randy Bryce, one of two Democrats running for the southern Wisconsin U.S. House seat held by Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

It wasn’t the two Koch brothers, Charles and David, but rather Charles Koch and his wife who contributed $495,400.

The money was given to a joint fundraising committee controlled by Ryan. But it primarily funds campaigns of other Republicans because, by law, only $10,800 could go to Ryan’s own campaign fund.

5. 97 percent of gun owners support universal background checks.

Our rating: Mostly True.

The claim was made by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., about a week after the Florida school shooting.

The figure was correct for the latest national poll, completed days before her claim, that asked about requiring background checks for all gun purchases. The only clarification was that the respondents weren’t all necessarily gun owners, but rather lived in a household where they or someone else own a gun.

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