Responding to the Las Vegas spree killing, Democratic Representative Seth Moulton (above) appeared on ABC’s This Week last week. In the course of declaring the need to “do something” — specifically, more gun control — Mr. Moulton declared “background checks been unequivocally shown to reduce gun violence.” politifact.com decided to fact check the statement, honing-in on the key word: “unequivocally.” Bless their heart . . .
For some reason, the website had a difficult time finding any scientific evidence that background checks for firearms purchases do a damn thing to reduce firearms-related injuries and deaths. Maybe because there isn’t any?
The best they could do was this citation-less quote from longtime gun control advocate David Hemenway:
Stronger gun laws and fewer guns are associated, all else equal, with lower rates of gun violence. Among all the gun laws, there is probably the best evidence that background checks help reduce gun violence. A handful of studies find that they appear to reduce interpersonal firearm violence (and gun trafficking).
Associated? All else equal? Probably? Appear to? I’ve got a truck I can drive through those logic loopholes. By the same token, I’d have to drink 40 gallons of that weak beer to give Hemenway’s statement one iota of credibility.
Any rational reader would read the prevarications in politifact.com’s fact-free analysis and conclude that Representative Moulton’s statement was FALSE. I guess politifact doesn’t cater to rational readers. Here’s their ruling:
Research has shown background checks to be associated with reduced gun violence, and they’re believed to be a necessary measure to stop guns from falling into the wrong hands. But it hasn’t been scientifically established that background checks alone could reduce violence, separate from a broader system of laws, regulations and enforcement.
In short, the scientific literature is fuzzier than Moulton claims, experts said.
We rate this Half True.
Of course, the politifact.com’s commentary section is filled with pointed, pro-gun objections from more scientific minds. Oh wait. They don’t have a comments section. It’s a strange omission for any organization that sells itself as dedicated to finding the truth. Or not.