Monday, January 28, 2013

Both sides of gun-control debate twist the facts

It seems both sides in the gun-control debate are loose with their facts, report Robert Farley and Eugene Kiely of, a project of the University of Pennsylvania's Annenberg Public Policy Center. Republicans' response to President Obama's plan to reduce gun violence has been rife with misleading claims, but so has a video from an anti-National Rifle Association group, which edited out key phrases in a campaign ad to support its position.

When Obama announced his "ambitious plan" to curb gun violence on Jan. 16, several Republicans "immediately pushed back," FactCheck reports. U.S. Rep. Steve Stockman of Texas said more gun laws would lead to more violence, but FactCheck writes that the majority of academic research about gun laws has found no such link. Stockman also said that parents would face prison time for giving their child a hunting rifle under new laws, but Obama's plan says there should be a "common-sense" approach to guns given as gifts to family members, FactCheck says.

Louisiana Rep. John Fleming claimed new laws would push doctors to ask patients if they own guns, but Obama's plan merely clarifies that federal laws don't prohibit such conversations. Texas Gov. Rick Perry said the executive branch of government can't abridge the Second Amendment, but all of Obama's major proposals to restrict gun and ammunition sales would require congressional approval. (Read more)

Kiely also finds a number of inaccuracies in a video attacking Democratic Rep. John Barrow of Georgia for accepting "NRA blood money." The video, produced by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, selectively edits an old campaign ad in which Barrow touts his support for the Second Amendment and the NRA's endorsement of him. The group edited out all parts of the ad which explain why Barrow supports gun rights, including a statement about his father owning a rifle to keep his family safe. Barrow's father was a judge who supported the civil-rights movement. The Athens Banner-Herald reported upon his death in 2000 that he kept a rifle beside the front door as protection during legal battles over desegregation.

Barrrow's original ad was released Oct. 16, 2012, and the group released its edited version Jan. 17, the day after Obama announced his gun-rule proposal. FactCheck reports that the group's video uses almost all of the original ad, but leaves out key phrases. For example, the video says, "I'm John Barrow. And long before I was born, my grandfather used this little Smith & Wesson here," but edits out "to help stop lynching." (Read more)

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