On December 4, Marco Rubio was on CBS This Morning. He made the following statement:
“None of the major shootings that have occurred in this country over the last few months or years that have outraged us, would gun laws have prevented them.”
I am pretty shocked by the Washington Post’s reaction. “Fact Checker” Glenn Kessler carefully went through all the shootings beginning with Sandy Hook.
A colleague pointed out this statement by Marco Rubio as a possible fact check, suggesting that it was almost certainly incorrect. It posed an interesting challenge, given the reams of data to examine.
The Fact Checker obviously takes no position on proposed gun-control laws. But given the attention of recent mass public shootings, is Rubio correct that none of the major shootings in recent years would have been prevented by new gun laws?
Rubio didn’t say what precise time frame he had in mind. Kessler chose Sandy Hook because that started the recent campaign. Basically he found two kinds of mass shootings. One kind should have been prevented by an existing law, but the law failed. This raises the question of how effective any new laws would be. The other kind of shootings were ones that wouldn’t have been prevented by new laws that Barack Obama and others have proposed.
This is certainly a depressing chronicle of death and tragedy. But Rubio’s statement stands up to scrutiny — at least for the recent past, as he framed it. Notably, three of the mass shootings took place in California, which already has strong gun laws including a ban on certain weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Gun-control advocates often point to the experience in other countries that have enacted gun laws that heavily restrict gun ownership; as we have shown, quantitative measures of cross-comparative crime statistics, especially where the crime is not consistently defined (i.e., “mass shooting”), usually end up being apples-to-oranges comparisons. It is possible that some gun-control proposals, such as a ban on large-capacity magazines, would reduce the number of dead in a future shooting, though the evidence for that is heavily disputed. But Rubio was speaking in the past, about specific incidents. He earns a rare Geppetto Checkmark.
Will this admission in a mainstream newspaper make Obama stop demanding useless restrictions on guns? I’m not holding my breath.