Clinton exaggerates effect of assault weapon expiry?

There was a posting by Glen Kessler in the Washington Post in mid January in a column called “Fact Checker” which argued that Bill Clinton’s assertion about the effect of the expiry of the assault weapons ban was greatly exaggerated.

Clinton is quoted as stating,  “Half of all mass killings in the United States have occurred since the assault weapons ban expired in 2005, half of all of them in the history of the country.”  at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Jan. 9, 2013.

Kessler checked various sources of data and concluded that the statement was greatly exaggerated. He acknowledged however that much depended on the definitions used and the data examined. Neither of these criteria will surprise most readers of this blog. Mother Jones, one of my favourite sources, did its own analysis and concluded that “more than 40 percent of mass shootings in the past 30 years have taken place since the assault weapon ban ended.”

Kessler remains convinced that Clinton overstated the effect and cautions “uncertainty in the data means politicians need to be very careful in making claims about gun violence.” Editor: Of course I agree. The pro-gun lobby is assiduous in searching for holes in anti-gun arguments even though my impression is that even if there were none it would not deter them from maintaining that guns are good for you. An interesting and revealing footnote to this story is that the column by Kessler attracted no less that 1414 comments!! I have not had the time to see how many agree with Kessler but the first few seem not to do so.

If anyone does go through them, please share the results!

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