In the wake of nation's latest mass shooting, what we know about guns from five fact-checks
Updated Nov. 9, 2018
As another community mourns the victims of the latest mass shooting in the United States, this one at a bar in Thousand Oaks, Calif., that left 12 dead, the nation’s attention again turns to the issue of guns.
According to NBC News, the Thousand Oaks attack is the 12th mass shooting since an Oct. 27, 2018, deadly assault at a Pittsburgh synagogue that left 11 people dead. Based on data from the Gun Violence Archive, NBC compiled a listing of mass shootings, defined as "an incident with four or more victims shot." The tally is 79 shot, with 23 deaths:
Nov. 7: Thousand Oaks, Ca., 23 shot and 13 deaths
Nov. 3: Watertown, N.Y., 5 shot and 0 deaths
Nov. 2: Long Beach, Ca., 4 shot and 0 deaths
Nov. 2 Tallahassee, Fla., 8 shot and 3 deaths
Nov. 1: Springfield, Mo., 4 shot and 2 deaths
Nov. 1: Minneapolis, Mn., 5 shot and 0 deaths
Oct. 31: Detroit, Mich., 4 shot and 1 deaths
Oct. 30: Vallejo, Ca., 5 shot and 2 deaths
Oct. 30: Los Angeles, 5 shot and 0 deaths
Oct. 29: Riverside, Ca., 7 shot and 0 deaths
Oct. 28: El Dorado, Ark., 4 shot and 2 deaths
Oct. 27: Memphis, Tenn., 5 shot and 0 deaths
Following a shooting a Middleton, Wis., software company Sept. 19, 2018, that left four people wounded and the gunman dead, PolitiFact Wisconsin reported on "What we know about guns" based on fact-checks:
Here are things we know about guns based on five fact checks we’ve done in 2018.
In the Democratic primary campaign for governor, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said: "If there is a firearm available, it is 17 times more likely to be used either for suicide or for assaulting a friend, relative, an acquaintance than it is to be used in fending off an intruder."
Soglin was on point in stating that a gun is much more likely to be used for a suicide, assault or homicide than used in self-defense, but was on less solid ground when it comes to stating exactly how many times more likely. That depends on the study, many of which do not differentiate between known and unknown victims. What’s more, recent research is limited.
Giffords PAC, which fights gun violence, attacked the U.S. House speaker by claiming he "has blocked all action to strengthen our gun laws."
The political action committee cited a dozen gun-control measures that didn’t get to a vote in the House under Ryan. So, it’s clear he did not move to bring those measures to the floor. But that’s not the same as the Janesville Republican 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 under Ryan.
While visiting Milwaukee to raise money for Wisconsin Democrats, Montana Gov. Steve Bullock -- a possible Democratic contender for president in 2020 -- declared: "A quarter of our guns are sold outside of the background checks."
The latest study that surveyed gun owners on the topic found that, among gun owners who had acquired a gun in some way within the previous two years, 22 percent had done so without a background check. But that takes into account people who acquired guns either by purchasing them, or by simply receiving them, for example as a gift. Among those surveyed who had purchased a gun within the previous two years, only 13 percent said they had done so without a background check.
U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., said 97 percent of gun owners support universal background checks.
The figure was correct for the latest national poll 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.
Ryan said the nation has "laws on the books designed to prevent people with mental illnesses from getting firearms."
A federal law, and some state laws, do prohibit people adjudicated as "mentally defective" or involuntarily committed to a mental health facility from possessing a gun. But experts said that standard includes people who do not pose a danger to others. And it does not account for a much larger set of people who might be dangerous but have not been diagnosed with, or treated for, a serious mental illness.