Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) mixed up his numbers when discussing guns on Sunday during a “Meet the Press” appearance.
The Vermont lawmaker made his position clear, telling host Chuck Todd “I am on record and have been for a very long time in saying we have got to significantly tighten up the background checks. We have to end the absurdity of the gun show loophole. 40 percent of the guns in this country are sold without any background checks.” Sanders added that he has a D rating from the NRA and that he lost a 1988 congressional election partially because he’s staunchly against assault weapons.
But the political watchdog site, FactCheck.org, says that Sanders numbers don’t add up. The “40 percent” statistic that the senator is quoting refers to a 24-year-old study. Instead, the most recent data points to the conclusion that “22 percent of U.S. gun owners who acquired a firearm within the past two years did so without a background check.” And the percentage of guns actually purchased (as opposed to inherited to gifted) without a background check is even lower — something like 13 percent.
A spokesperson for Sanders told FactCheck that “Senator Sanders on Meet the Press provided the best information he had at the time,” adding “whether it’s 40 percent or 22 percent of guns being purchased without a background check, millions of Americans still acquire guns without background checks. That’s absurd. No one should be allowed to purchase a gun without a vigorous background check.”
Unfortunately, the Parkland school shooting has given rise to a number of flimsy statistics. Everytown, a group advocating for gun safety, pushed a statistic declaring that there have been 18 school shootings in 2018. While technically the number is right, it also includes a shooting that took place in a school parking lot at 8 p.m. and a suicide that a man who killed himself in the parking lot of a defunct elementary school in Michigan.
Sanders also shared the “18 school shootings” statistic but later apologized, saying “this is a crisis that must be addressed now, but it is important that we use correct stats when discussing this horrific situation.”