While slipping a push for gun control into public remarks made after the horrific #CharlestonShooting that killed 9 members of the Emanuel AME Church, President Obama made what seemed like an unbelievable claim: “This type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries.”
It didn’t take Twitter long to dismantle that obvious untruth — two sequential terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011, for example, claimed 80 lives. Still, the president’s claim received a “Mostly False” rating from PolitiFact.
PolitiFact managed to reach that conclusion by taking into account the president’s disclaimer, “It doesn’t happen in other places with this kind of frequency.” For its analysis, the site relied on data provided by Jaclyn Schildkraut of the State University of New York and H. Jaymi Elsass of Texas State University. A few disclaimers which bear highlighting:
Elsass warned PolitiFact of a few caveats about the data. While they believe their database “to be among the most exhaustive compilations available,” Elsass noted that it may not include every instance of mass shootings. It also doesn’t include every example of mass killings — just those committed by firearms, even though mass stabbings are not uncommon in such places as China. Finally, their database doesn’t include acts generally considered to be terrorism, such as the attack in Paris on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
That’s right: the shooting deaths of 12 in France by two brothers, self-proclaimed members of Al Qaeda, don’t count as a “mass shooting,” nor should the Charleston shooting, the inspiration for Obama’s comment in the first place.
The best part of PolitiFact’s analysis, though, has to do with a tiny little country called China.
Going by the name “PolitiFact” and all, the editors decided they had no choice but to clarify their analysis, hilariously by “agreeing” with their readers that China indeed has more people than the United States. Maybe a topic for the next expert analysis by PolitiFact?