Bill Clinton Whopper: 'Half of All Mass Killings in the U.S. Have Occurred Since the Assault Weapons Ban Expired in 2005'

While it's not exactly news when former President Bill Clinton fails to tell the truth (after all, the first count on which he was impeached concerned his lying under oath in grand jury testimony), a whopper he hauled out at the Consumer Electronics show last Wednesday concerning gun violence was so over the top that it deserves far more notice than most of the establishment press will give it.

One of the reports on what Clinton said was at Thursday morning's New York Daily News. As an aside, the paper's online article looks more like what one would find at issues advocacy blogs than what you would hope to see at a real newspaper's web site; this particular item pleads with readers within its text to "CLICK HERE TO SIGN THE DAILY NEWS ONLINE PETITION TO BAN ASSAULT WEAPONS," and the petition itself appears below Kristen Lee's report. Lee relayed what Clinton said at the Consumer Electronics show on January 9:


Former President Bill Clinton pushes for stricter gun control during Consumer Electronics Show speech

Former President Bill Clinton was a surprise guest on Wednesday at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, where he seized his opportunity to make a push for greater gun control during a speech about technology.

“I grew up in this hunting culture, but this is nuts,” the Arkansas native said. “Why does anybody need a 30 round clip for a gun? Why does anybody need one of those things that carries 100 bullets?”

... During Clinton’s speech on Wednesday, the former president seemed to favor reinstating the federal assault weapons that expired 10 years after he signed into law in 1994.

“Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005,” he said. “Half of all of them in the history of the country.”

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler fact checked Clinton's "half of all mass killings" assertion on Friday, and in essence found it utterly lacking any basis (HT Powerline via Instapundit; bolds are mine):

Bill Clinton’s over-the-top ‘fact’ on mass shootings

... Grant Duwe, director of research and evaluation at the Minnesota Department of Corrections, assembled a data set going back 100 years for a 2007 book titled, “Mass Murder in the United States: A History.” He used the FBI Supplementary Homicide Reports, which date from 1976, and then supplemented the FBI reports with news reports (principally The New York Times) dating from 1900.

Duwe says the Times turned out to be a relatively reliable guide for mass murders across the country, since much of the post-1976 information also turned up in the contemporaneous FBI reports. As far as he knows, he is the only person who has assembled such a historical data set.

According to his research, he has identified 156 mass public shootings in the United States in the past 100 years. Duwe defines a mass public shooting as an incident in which four or more victims are killed publicly with guns within 24 hours — in the workplace, schools, restaurants and other public places — excluding shootings in connection with crimes such as robbery, drugs or gangs. (Note that this would exclude a number of “mass murders” that sometimes get lumped into the data, such as the Beltway sniper who killed 10 people over a three-week period in 2002.)

Since 2005, when the assault ban expired, there have been 32 such mass public shootings, including seven in 2012, Duwe said. So that’s just over 20 percent of all mass public shootings, which is much less than Clinton’s 50 percent.

... It is important to note that these are raw figures; the United States had far fewer people 50 or 100 years ago.

... We ran this data past a spokesman for Clinton, but he declined to comment or offer an explanation for where the former president got his facts. That always makes us suspicious.

Note that the Beltway Sniper murders occurred during the decade when the "assault weapons" ban was in place.

Therefore, Bill Clinton assertion is wrong -- by a factor of 2.5 (50% divided by 20%) -- even before considering that Duwe's research excludes about 120 years of America's existence.

Kessler further notes that Mother Jones, using data only dating back to 1982, i.e., excluding 200 years of U.S. history, was only able to get to 40 percent.

Kessler, who has an annoying habit of being an easy grader on demonstrably false leftist claims, gave Clinton's statement only "three Pinocchios" ("Significant factual error and/or obvious contradictions") with a pathetic excuse: "Given the fuzziness of the data and questions about definitions, we are going to cut Clinton a bit of slack in the final ruling."

Horse manure. Clinton's reckless claim is a four-Pinocchio "whopper" (Kessler's definition). Yet Kessler appears to be virtually alone in the establishment press in even challenging it.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.