Fact Check: Obama's Comments On Guns Dubbed 'Faux Statistics'

Washington Post fact checkers take aim at president's claims of 'machine guns in bars' and 'guns in kindergarten' during an address to Benedict College students in South Carolina.
Fact Check: Obama's Comments On Guns Dubbed 'Faux Statistics'

In a rare critique of statements made by President Obama and his views on guns, the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” blog deemed several statements he made to college students in Columbia, S.C., “three pinocchios,” saying Obama’s claims contained “significant factual errors and obvious contradictions.”

At his town hall meeting at Benedict College March 6, the president railed against American gun ownership, saying the U.S. violent crime rate was “higher … by a mile” than other industrialized countries.  

“And most of that is attributable to the easy, ready availability of firearms — particularly handguns,” Obama said.

But The Post found that Brazil and Mexico, both “industrialized nations” have by far the highest violent crime rates at 25 and 23 percent respectively (and guns are severely restricted on those countries). The U.S. violent crime rate stands at 5.2 percent, which is tied with Chile and is slightly higher than Estonia’s 4.7 percent rate.

See the president's comments on guns in the video above from 1:06:13 to 1:12:06.

“The United States certainly has a rate that is above average — and indeed, countries such as Japan, Germany, France and the United Kingdom all have homicide rates that are well below 1 per 100,000,” The Post said. “But the president said that U.S. rate was higher ‘by a mile’ when in fact the rate is five times lower than Brazil and four times lower than Mexico.”

Obama also told his college-aged audience that guns were more prevalent than food in some neighborhoods.

“There are neighborhoods where it’s easier for you to buy a handgun and clips than it is for you to buy a fresh vegetable — as long as that’s the case, we’re going to continue to see unnecessary violence,” Obama said.

Of course, The Post pointed out that it is not necessary to pass a federal background check to buy vegetables.

“This is just a very strange comment that appears to have no statistical basis,” the Fact Check blog said. “As far as we know, there are no areas in the United States where background checks are needed to buy vegetables.”

Lastly, the president said he was not “exaggerating” when he said gun-rights supporters think “we should have firearms in kindergarten and we should have machine guns in bars.”

The Post argued that Obama might have been referring to efforts by concealed carry rights supporters to life the ban on carrying firearms on school grounds. But the paper’s fact checkers recognized that the president was “certainly putting a bit of spin on the proposals” and quoted anti-gun groups as saying “it may be an exaggeration to say laws have been proposed to allow machine guns in bars.”

“The president was playing fast and loose with his language here — to a group of college students no less,” The Post said. “The gun debate is serious enough that it should not be poisoned by exaggerated claims and faux statistics.”  


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