February's top PolitiFact Wisconsin claims

Posted at 7:41 PM, Mar 08, 2018
and last updated 2018-03-08 20:41:33-05

Guns, guns, guns, top the most popular PolitiFact Wisconsin claims for February. The Florida mass school shooting had lots of people and politicians making claims.

Tom Kertscher with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel looked at those claims to see how they stood up to the Truth-O-Meter.

#4 Claim: "The past president (Barack Obama) brought Al Sharpton into the White House something like 80 times."

The statement was made by U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, R-Wis. Our analysis of visitor logs through September 2016 showed 118 White House visits by the minister and political activist.

PolitiFact Wisconsin rating: True.

#3 Claim: "Assault rifles already are banned."

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., made the statement the day after a gunman killed 49 people at a nightclub in Orlando, Fla., in June 2016. It got new attention after the Parkland shooting.

Some, including Johnson, contend that only weapons that are automatic, firing continuously when the trigger is held down are assault weapons, are assault weapons. Those are essentially prohibited by federal laws. But that definition is narrow, and Johnson's claim gave a misleading impression of a comprehensive ban.

Lawmakers, law enforcement officials and others widely refer to many semiautomatic weapons like the rifle used in Orlando and other mass shootings, which reload automatically but fire only once each time the trigger is depressed, as assault weapons. Those are not banned by federal law.

PolitiFact Wisconsin rating: Mostly False.

#2 Claim: "There are more guns in this country than there are people."

Kevin Nicholson, one of two Republicans running for the seat held by U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., made the statement in connection with the school shooting in Parkland, Fla.

There is no official count of the number of firearms in the United States. In one estimate, for 2009, the number of guns exceeded the population. But the most recent estimate cited by gun-statistics experts puts the figure at 265 million guns as of January 2015, when the population was 320 million.

PolitiFact Wisconsin rating: Half True.

#1 Claim "In the rest of the world, there have been 18 school shootings in the last 20 years. In the U.S., there have been 18 school shootings since Jan. 1."

On the day of the school shooting, Feb. 14, 2018, that claim was made by TV journalist and author Jeff Greenfield, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate.

By one count widely cited in the news media, there had been 18 incidents in which shots were fired inside or outside of a school or university building in the United States to that point in 2018. But only three involved a mass shooting. And the count included two suicides, three accidental shootings and nine incidents in which there were no fatalities or injuries.

As for the rest of the world, an expert told us there is no way to know how many school shootings, using the definition Greenfield relied on, have occurred over the past 20 years.

PolitiFact Wisconsin rating: Mostly False.