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Fact Check: Clinton’s Claims About Gun Industry Immunity Are Inaccurate

- January 17, 2016

Clinton’s Claim That Many Of The Guns Used In New York Crimes Are From Rival Sen. Bernie Sander’s Home State Of Vermont Was Criticized As Unfair And Based On “Extremely Creative Statistics”

Clinton Has Claimed That Many Of The Guns Used In Crimes In New York Come From Vermont.  “Hillary Clinton ratcheted up her attacks on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' gun control record Monday, telling a private gathering of state legislators near the State Capitol that many of the guns used by New York criminals come across the border from the Green Mountain State. ‘She said she wants to work to get illegal guns off the street and said it's been part of her work as an elected official to strengthen laws to keep America safe. She said that it's going to be coming out in the very near future that many of the catastrophes that have taken human lives in the State of New York have been the product of guns coming over the border from Vermont,’ said State Sen. Tim Kennedy, a Democrat from Buffalo.” (Jimmy Vielkind, “Clinton: New York Criminals Get Guns From Vermont,” Politico, 4/4/16)

The Washington Post Gave The Claim That “The Highest Per Capita Number Of Crime Guns In New York Come From Vermont” Three Pinocchios, Arguing That It Is An Unfair  “The number of crime guns in New York from Vermont is so small that it could even be attributed to one or two bad actors. Using the per capita measure of trafficked guns originating from Vermont is as pointless as counting guns trafficked per 100,000 head of cattle… Clinton has carefully crafted its talking point to find the particular government data that support her point, which gives a wildly different view than how trafficking flows are tracked. We do not find the per capita measure as a fair assessment of gun flows from Vermont into New York. The difference between this point using per capita calculation and the raw number (1 percent of crime guns with source states identified in 2014 came from Vermont) is so stark that it creates a significantly misleading impression to the public. Those factors tip to Three Pinocchios.” (Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “Hillary Clinton’s Claim That The ‘Highest Per Capita Number’ Of Crime Guns In New York Come From Vermont,” The Washington Post, 4/12/16)

The Associated Press Fact Checked The Statement Saying It “Depends On A Narrow And Arguably Irrelevant Use Of Federal Gun Data.”  “Her latest offensive, however, depends on a narrow and arguably irrelevant use of federal gun data. Speaking on Long Island, New York, this week, Clinton said that when Sanders is ‘challenged on his gun stances, he frequently says: 'Well, I represent Vermont. It's a small, rural state.’ Clinton added: "Here's what I want you to know: Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state. The state that has the highest per-capita number of those guns that end up committing crime in New York come from Vermont.’” (Bill Barrow And Alicia A. Caldwell, “FACT CHECK: Clinton’s Latest Gun-Law Broadside On Sanders,” The Associated Press, 4/13/16)

The New York Post Called Clinton’s Attack Line A Silly Claim That Used “Extremely Creative Statistics.” “Clinton’s doubling down on her silly claim that guns from Vermont pose a dire threat to New Yorkers’ safety, with extremely creative statistics to obscure the fact that far more illegal firearms arrive here from Virginia — which is a lot farther off.” (Editorial, “Hillary V. Bernie Takes A Detour Into Fantasyland,” New York Post, 4/12/16)

Clinton Stated That The Gun Industry Is Free From Liability, Which Was Fact-Checked As False

Clinton Has Criticized A 2005 Law She Opposed That Placed Restriction On Law Suits Against Some In The Gun Industry. “At the first Democratic debate of the 2016 presidential race, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton criticized opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., for supporting a 2005 law that shields the gun industry from certain lawsuits. Clinton voted against this law when she was a senator, and she has lambasted it several times on the campaign trail this month.” (Lauren Carroll, “Clinton: Gun Industry Is 'Wholly Protected' From All Lawsuits,” PolitiFact, 10/16/15)

PolitiFact: Clinton’s Report That The Gun Industry Is Completely Protected From Lawsuits Is False. “Is Clinton right? Are gun makers and dealers ‘wholly protected’ against any kind of lawsuit, and do no other industries have similar immunities? Short answer: No. The gun industry is susceptible to some lawsuits, and there are federal laws restricting liability for a number of other types of businesses.” (Lauren Carroll, “Clinton: Gun Industry Is 'Wholly Protected' From All Lawsuits,” PolitiFact, 10/16/15)

NPR: “Clinton Is Wrong That Gun Companies Have Zero Liability.” “Clinton is wrong that gun companies have zero liability for their goods, but they do have special legal protections against liability that very few other industries enjoy.” (Danielle Kurtzleben, “FACT CHECK: Are Gun-Makers 'Totally Free Of Liability For Their Behavior’?” NPR, 10/6/15)

“The Gun Industry Is Susceptible To Some Lawsuits.” “Is Clinton right? Are gun makers and dealers "wholly protected" against any kind of lawsuit, and do no other industries have similar immunities? Short answer: No. The gun industry is susceptible to some lawsuits, and there are federal laws restricting liability for a number of other types of businesses.” (Lauren Carroll, “Clinton: Gun Industry Is 'Wholly Protected' From All Lawsuits,” PolitiFact, 10/16/15)

  • There Are Specific Cases In Which The Gun Industry Can Be Held Liable. “The law, however, allows for specific cases in which dealers and manufacturers can be held responsible. So that makes Clinton's statement technically incorrect.” (Danielle Kurtzleben, “FACT CHECK: Are Gun-Makers 'Totally Free Of Liability For Their Behavior’?” NPR, 10/6/15)

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