Marco Rubio Gets Fact Checked by the Washington Post and Shows Everyone How It Is Done

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla. speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Back over a year ago, Senator Marco Rubio made an intuitively obvious statement about the role of gun laws in preventing mass shootings; either those like the one in Las Vegas or even the daily dropping of bodies in Chicago.


“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.”

Because nothing says journalistic integrity like scouring quotes from two years ago to fact check, the Washington Post fact check guru Glenn Kessler, Mister True-but-False, himself, decided that this was fair game:

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 was not specific in his time frame — and a spokesman declined to elaborate — but for the purposes of this fact check we will go back as far as the Newtown shooting in 2012, which touched off the current gun debate.

By “a colleague” we can almost certainly predict it was a Democrat member of congress or a political consultant of the type that has been soiling their hand by using Jimmy Kimmel as a sockpuppet.

What did they find?

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 (editor’s note–this is awarded when a statement that is 100% true).


Exactly right. Criminals are called that because they commit crimes. Once you’ve resolved to commit a crime of violence against a person, there is no smaller law, like magazine size, etc., that is going to deter you. The secondary point here is that Rubio took a hot button issue, framed it correctly, and presented a factual case that stood up even to a deliberate attempt to embarrass him. That is a talent we won’t see again for a few years.



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