Speakers at the National Rifle Association’s annual meeting attacked a Chicago gun ban that doesn’t exist, ignored safety improvements at a Texas school where children were slaughtered and outright misrepresented the national gun and crime statistics as they opposed any tougher gun laws.
A look at some of the claims:
TEXAS SENATOR. TED CRUZ: “Gun bans don’t work. Look at Chicago. If they worked, Chicago wouldn’t be the murderous hell it has been for far too long.”
THE FACTS: Chicago hasn’t banned handguns in over a decade. And in 2014, a federal judge overturned the city’s ban on gun stores. Big NRA supporters like Cruz might know this well, given that it was the NRA that sued Chicago over its former handgun ban and argued the case in the US Supreme Court. United, which ruled the ban unconstitutional in 2010.
FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: “Classroom doors must be hardened to make them lockable from the inside and closed to intruders from the outside.”
THE FACTS: As trite as it sounds, it could backfire in horrific ways, experts warn.
A lock on the classroom door is one of the most basic and widely recommended security measures. But in Uvalde it kept the victims out and the police out.
Nearly 20 officers stood in a hallway outside the classrooms school for more than 45 minutes before officers used a master key to open the locked classroom door.
And Trump’s proposal ignores what would happen if class members were trapped behind a locked door and one of the students was the attacker in future attacks.
CRUZ: “The rate of possession of firearms has not changed.”
THE FACTS: This is misleading. The percentage of American households owning at least one firearm in the home has not changed much over the past 50 years. But the number of assault rifles, like the one used in the Uvalde school shooting and dozens of other school shootings, has skyrocketed since lawmakers let a 1994 ban expire in 2004. on these weapons.
In the years before and after this ban, approximately 8.5 million AR platform rifles were in circulation in the United States. Since the ban was lifted, the rifles – dubbed “modern sporting rifles” by the industry – have grown in popularity. The National Shooting Sports Foundation estimated there were nearly 20 million in circulation as of 2020.
CRUZ: “If Uvalde had gotten a grant to improve school security, maybe they would have made some changes that would have stopped the shooter and killed him on the ground, before he hurt one of those innocent children and teachers.”
THE FACTS: This claim ignores the fact that Uvalde had doubled his school safety budget and spent years improving protections for school children. None of this stopped the shooter who killed 19 students and two teachers.
Annual district budgets show the school system has grown from $204,000 in 2017 to $435,000 for this year. The district had developed a safety plan in 2019 that called for staffing schools with four officers and four counselors. He had installed a fence and invested in a program that monitors social media threats and purchased software to screen school visitors.
The grant that Cruz says saved lives came from a failed 2013 bill that would help schools hire more armed officers and install bulletproof doors. The Uvalde school had an officer but the person was not on campus when the shooter entered the building. And, Cruz’s call for bulletproof doors might not have worked in this case, given that the police couldn’t open the locked door to the classroom where the gunman murdered children and teachers.
EDITOR’S NOTE — A look at the veracity of politicians’ claims.