Firearm deaths in the United States are almost as common as death in car accidents, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, and every day five women are murdered by guns. U.S. women are 11 times more likely to be victims of homicide by gun than women who live in other developed countries, and in states that require background checks, 38 percent fewer women are shot to death by intimate partners. Meanwhile, presumptive Republican party presidential nominee Donald Trump says he is eager to see gun access expanded.
Trump, whose campaign was recently endorsed by the National Rifle Association, is making gun rights a center point of his 2016 White House run. But how much of what he's saying about guns is actually true? Not much.
1. Likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will abolish the Second Amendment and then there will be no guns for anyone. "Crooked HillaryClinton is the most anti-gun, anti-Second-Amendment candidate ever to run for office," Trump told the NRA during their national conference. "And as I said before she wants to abolish the Second Amendment. She wants to take your guns away."
That's a statement that FactCheck.org considers a far cry from Clinton's actual policy position. "Clinton has a gun violence prevention proposal on her website, which would deny gun owners from buying certain guns and block or delay the ability of some to purchase guns. But it does not call for taking any guns away," the fact-checking website reported in response to Trump's accusations. After detailing her proposal, they summarized, "Trump may choose not to believe what Clinton says, but the fact is there is no evidence that Clinton wants to 'take your guns away' or 'abolish the Second Amendment.' She hasn't said that, and her gun proposals would not do that."
2. More guns would protect us from terrorist attacks. The November 13, 2015, terrorist attack in Paris, France, left more than 100 people dead and hundreds more wounded, but according to Trump, the number could have been much lower if only more Parisians had been armed themselves. "Voicing his support for the Second Amendment, Trump argued that the recent massacre in Paris would have 'would have played out differently with the bullets flying in the other direction,'" a North Carolina news outlet reported during a local March Trump campaign appearance. "'Paris has some of the toughest gun laws in the world, folks,' he said. 'We have a mental health problem and we have to solve the mental health problem, but we need to protect the Second Amendment.'"
In reality, armed citizens attempting to take down active shooters is more likely to increase – not decrease – violence. "There is also little evidence that more guns - especially in the possession of regular citizens - would do much to change the outcome when gun-bearing terrorists, bombs strapped to their chests, barrel through concert halls, sporting events, restaurants, and other public spaces," the Washington Post reported. "In the United States, where the National Rifle Association has capitalized on an uptick in mass shootings to argue for putting guns in the hands of as many people as possible, most evidence suggests just the opposite: armed citizens either don't try to stop shooters, or fail when they do. Guns have also been shown to lead to more violence. And they're rarely used in self-defense."
3. Expanding background checks wouldn't impact gun violence. According to Trump, "Every time a person buys a gun from a federally licensed gun dealer – which is the overwhelming majority of all gun purchases – they go through a federal background check. Study after study has shown that very few criminals are stupid enough to try and pass a background check – they get their guns from friends/family members or by stealing them." Everytown for Gun Safety, an anti-gun violence policy group that has endorsed Clinton for president, disagrees.
The organization states that guns are bought online, at gun shows, or through other private sellers all fall into a "loophole" that allows those who would fail a check to still access a weapon, and in states where there are background checks on every sale, there are fewer instances of gun violence. "The single most important thing we can do to reduce gun violence is to require a criminal background check for every gun sale," they write. "Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., already do this for all handgun sales. In these states, 46 percent fewer women are shot to death by their partners, 48 percent fewer on-duty police officers are shot and killed, 48 percent fewer people commit suicide with guns, and there is 48 percent less gun trafficking."
4. Schools would be safer if everyone – including teachers – could carry. During an early Vermont campaign stop Trump promised voters that if he were elected president, the very first day he was in office the first thing he would do is repeal gun free zones, even around schools. "I will get rid of gun-free zones on schools, and - you have to - and on military bases," Trump said. "My first day, it gets signed, okay? My first day. There's no more gun-free zones." Trump calls gun-free zones "targets for sickos and for the mentally ill," arguing that allowing guns would stop those potential shooters from choosing them. When asked if he meant teachers should have guns in their classrooms, his answer was a resounding "in some cases."
Eliminating gun-free zones won't keep anyone safer, though, because school shooters pick them for other reasons, and often have no illusions that they will survive the attack. "Proponents of this argument also ignore that the majority of mass shootings are murder-suicides," explains Mother Jones, which did an extensive study on mass shootings in 2013. "Thirty-six of the killers we studied took their own lives at or near the crime scene, while seven others died in police shootouts they had no hope of surviving (a.k.a. 'suicide by cop'). These were not people whose priority was identifying the safest place to attack."
5. Gun restrictions actually increase violence in cities. When asked to prove that gun control is a bad idea, Trump points to the high crime rates in cities that do in fact have gun control laws on the books already. "You look at Chicago," Trump said on ABC's This Week. "It's got the toughest gun laws in the United States. You look at other places where they have gun laws that are very tough, they do generally speaking worse than anybody else."
But researchers told Bloomberg Politics that the issue wasn't that Chicago bans guns. Instead, it was the fact that so many surrounding communities outside Illinois didn't do the same, allowing criminals to access weapons nearby and bring them into the city, including gang members getting guns through unregulated channels. "I think that it's more likely that if Chicago did not have tough gun laws they would have higher rates of gun violence than they do have," Philip Cook, a Duke professor and economist working with the University of Chicago Crime Lab, told the news outlet.
6. Trump sincerely believes everything he is saying about the unlimited right to bear arms. Perhaps the biggest lie Trump is telling on the campaign trail is how much he supports gun rights in the first place. While he may now be cozying up to the NRA and declaring there should never be any restriction on what type of gun a person can carry, what sort of bullets are loaded into it, and what buildings, schools, or military areas these weapons can be carried at, his positions were far different in 2000.
According to Buzzfeed, Trump wrote in his book, The America We Deserve that his stance on guns was one of reasonable restrictions. "I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I also support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun. With today's internet technology we should be able to tell within 72 hours if a potential gun owner has a record," he wrote. He also told Larry King in an interview that, "Look, there's nothing I like better than nobody has them, but that's not going to happen, Larry. So, as long as that's not going to happen, I say you have to be allowed to have a gun."
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