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FACT CHECK: Gavin Newsom misfires on bump stock accusation

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(The Center Square) – In last night’s State of the State speech, Gov. Gavin Newsom blasted Republicans for allowing “machine guns” on the street in red states. “Just last week, Republicans in the U.S. Senate refused to outlaw bump stocks — the same so-called ‘accessory’ that a gunman in Las Vegas used to kill 60 people, wound hundreds, and dislodge over 1,000 rounds, in just 11 minutes. That’s why their states are less safe.”

The part about the Las Vegas shooting is true. Sixty people died in 2017 when a single man opened fire with a bump stock-equipped rifle from his hotel room overlooking a music festival in Los Vegas. The perpetrator would not have been able to fire so many rounds without the assistance of the bump stock which made his gun fire at a rate close to that of an automatic weapon. A regulatory bump stock ban put in place by the Trump administration in 2018 was overturned by the Supreme Court this month.

However, the rest of Newsom’s facts are false.

Nevada is not a Republican state. In the last four presidential elections it has voted for Democrats. At the time of the shooting, the state had one Democratic senator and one Republican senator, but now has two Democratic senators. In 2017, it had a Republican governor and now has a Democratic leader. Nevada is a purple state where both parties share control.

In the years since the Las Vegas massacre there have been zero bump-stock-related shootings in any Republican state. There have been zero in Democratic states.

When the Center Square asked Newsom’s office about the lack of violence involving bump stocks, a spokesman wrote back in an email that “The last time there was one, in Las Vegas, it was the worst mass shooting in U.S. history. They’ve only been re-legalized for a week. Unfortunately, history tells us it is only a matter of time before another tragedy occurs due to Congressional Republicans opposition to proven gun safety measures.”

The Center Square asked the Gun Violence Archive if its records included any shootings involving bump stocks in recent years. Sharon Williams, the archive’s data manager wrote back with a list of events that involved bump stocks, but no shooting.”Frequently,” she wrote, “the bump stock is not recognized as such by law enforcement.”

Professor James Alan Fox says bump stocks really play no role in the mass killings he tracks as a criminologist at Northeastern University. He calls the bump stock ban a “largely symbolic” move President Donald Trump made to do “something about mass shootings without rocking the gun boat.”

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