Two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Ct.) said on the Senate floor that there are “less gun crimes” and “less homicides” in states that have enacted limits on assault-style weapons. The Washington Post Fact Checker gives Murphy “three Pinocchios” for misstating the facts. Murphy’s staff said he was citing a 2015 chart from the National Journal. The Post says the National Journal was counting gun deaths, more than 60 percent of which are suicides.
The Post ran the numbers again without including suicides and “in some cases, it made a huge difference.” Alaska, ranked 50th on the National Journal list, moved up to 25th place. Utah, 31st on the list, jumped to 8th place. Hawaii remains in 1st place, but the top six now include Vermont, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Iowa and Maine. Indeed, half of the 10 states with the lowest gun-death rates turn out to be states with less-restrictive gun laws. Says the Post, “It’s not enough to count laws to figure out the reasons gun deaths are lower in one state than another. One would need to specifically determine whether certain laws had an effect, over time, on the gun-death rate in a state.” Murphy stated “what we know” when the evidence is not so clear-cut.