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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Sanders Lowballs Vermont Gun Deaths by an Order of Magnitude

Posted By on Wed, Mar 14, 2018 at 12:13 PM

Updated at 1:26 p.m.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) took to the floor of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday morning to call for gun control legislation, but in doing so he understated the number of gun deaths in Vermont by an order of magnitude.

“In my small state of Vermont, between 2011 and 2016, 42 people were killed by guns,” Sanders said in his remarks.

That’s the same window of time Vermont Public Radio focused on last year in a series documenting gun deaths in Vermont, but Sanders’ figure was way off. VPR’s reporting, which was based on data provided by the Vermont Department of Health, found that 420 people were killed by guns between 2011 and 2016.

In his remarks on the Senate floor, Sanders did not cite a source for the number he used. It was also included in a press release his office issued Wednesday morning.

Later, Sanders spokesman Dan McLean said that the senator had intended to describe gun homicides during that six-year period. Citing the VPR report, McLean noted that 47 Vermonters were killed by someone else in those years and that five of those incidents involved law enforcement, “making 42 the most accurate number we had.”

According to VPR, another 373 people killed themselves using guns.

In his remarks, Sanders named 10 people killed by guns in Vermont in recent high-profile cases, including four killed by Jody Herring in 2015. He also called for mandatory universal background checks, which would close the so-called “gun show loophole,” and for an assault weapons ban.

Earlier this year, Sanders fumbled numbers related to a mass school shooting in Parkland, Fla. Writing on Twitter on February 14, he claimed there had already been 18 school shootings in 2018. He later issued a correction, noting that the number was "incorrect and inflated."

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