Even as President Trump voiced support for proposals generally backed by Democrats — including expanded background checks and raising the age limit to 21 for some gun buyers — the president peppered his remarks with inaccurate facts about mass shootings and gun policy.
President Donald Trump signaled that he was open to some proposals to curb gun violence Wednesday during an hourlong televised meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers.
But even as he voiced support for proposals generally backed by Democrats — including expanded background checks and raising the age limit to 21 for some gun buyers — the president peppered his remarks with inaccurate facts about mass shootings and gun policy.
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And many of his comments hewed firmly to Republican Party talking points.
“Hey, look, I’m the biggest fan of the Second Amendment,” Trump said. But he then said law enforcement should “take the guns first, go through due process second” when dealing with people who own guns and exhibit signs of mental illness.
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The president also repeatedly chastised lawmakers for being “afraid” and “petrified” of the National Rifle Association, which he then also praised as filled with “great patriots” who are “well-meaning.”
Here are some other comments by Trump during the session, fact-checked:
“You take Pulse nightclub, if you had one person in that room that could carry a gun and knew how to use it, it wouldn’t have happened, or certainly to the extent that it did.”
There was, in fact, an off-duty police officer working in the nightclub at the time of the shooting. Officer Adam Gruler, a member of the Orlando Police Department since 2001, responded and exchanged fire with the gunman.
“Texas, as an example, is very much as to what I’m saying. You’ve done very well. You haven’t had this problem.”
Several mass shootings have occurred in Texas.
Some recent examples: in November, a gunman opened fire on a church in Sutherland Springs, killing 26 people. In July 2016, a sniper gunned down police officers in Dallas, leaving five dead. And in 2014, a soldier killed three others at Fort Hood in Killeen.
“98 percent of all mass shootings in the United States since 1950 have taken place in gun-free zones.”
This is disputed.
Trump is referring to a 2014 study from John Lott, an economist and gun-rights advocate.
Lott found that 98.4 percent of mass public shootings have occurred in a “gun-free zone.” His study looked at shootings that occurred in areas where civilians are not allowed to carry guns, as well as places that “made it extremely difficult” to obtain a concealed-carry license.
Other researchers have criticized or directly refuted Lott’s work as too broad.
For instance, in his 2016 book, “Rampage Nation,” Louis Klarevas of the University of Massachusetts Boston criticized Lott’s definition of “gun-free zones” and argued that the absence of conceal-carry laws does not equate to “gun free.” Such laws fail to account for weapons being carried by law-enforcement officers, military troops or licensed professional security personnel.
Klarevas also pointed out that Lott’s data set included military bases like Fort Hood and the Washington Navy Yard, where weapons are kept on site and held according to military protocol.
Using his own data set of 111 mass shootings since 1966, Klarevas found that 84 percent took place in areas where civilians were allowed to carry guns. Similarly, the gun-control advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety found that 70 percent of mass shootings between January 2009 and July 2015 took place in private residences.
Eliminating gun-free zones “prevent it from ever happening, because they are cowards and they’re not going in when they know they’re going to come out dead.”
Fear of death or returning fire has not deterred several mass shooters in recent years. For example, perpetrators of mass shootings in Las Vegas in 2017, Isla Vista, California, in 2014 and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 all killed themselves.