Democrats don’t exactly have the sterling reputation when it comes to accurately representing the issues of gun ownership and gun control.
But a statistic cited Tuesday by former Vice President Joe Biden may just be the most egregious yet.
The moment happened during Tuesday’s Democratic presidential primary debate in Charleston, South Carolina, when Biden was making a point about gun manufacturers.
The former VP was attempting to call out fellow candidate Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his supposedly “soft” track record on the issue of gun control.
“My friend to my right and others have in fact also given to the gun manufacturers absolute immunity. Imagine if I stood here and said we give immunity to drug companies, we give immunity to tobacco companies. That has caused carnage on our streets. A hundred and fifty million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability.”
By any measure, Biden’s stat seems implausible, to say the least.
According to the Pew Research Center, 39,773 people died from gun-related injuries in the U.S. in 2017 (the most recent year for which data is available).
And tens of thousands of gun deaths per year does not add up to nearly 150 million since 2007. Not even close.
Gun experts and conservative pundits were quick to point out Biden’s mistake.
Also, presumably this was a mistake on Joe Biden's part but there have not been "150 million people" killed with guns since 2007. There are about 30,000 gun deaths per year and about two-thirds of those are suicides.
— Stephen Gutowski (@StephenGutowski) February 26, 2020
Biden just said 150 million people have been killed by "gun violence" over the past 10+ years. This is so so false. There are 300 million people in America.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) February 26, 2020
Biden’s claim is fantastical on its face, but it looks even sillier when compared to a different set of statistics: deaths from communism in the 20th century.
French historian Stéphane Courtois wrote in the introduction to his 1999 book The Black Book of Communism that a rough approximation of deaths from communism approached 100 million.
In the well-regarded book’s forward, American historian Martin Malia concurred, writing of “a grand total of victims variously estimated by contributors to the volume at between 85 million and 100 million.”
Those are enormous numbers, yet they don’t even come close to the Biden’s “number of people killed since 2007.”
Are guns in America really more dangerous than a century of communism?
Common sense provides the answer: Biden’s claim is risible.
After this piece was written, Biden’s campaign team replied to the candidate’s statement, admitting it was an error.
Washington Examiner reporter Mike Brest noted the clarification on Twitter.
“He meant 150K. He’s used that line multiple times before,” the campaign said, according to Brest.
It’s notable, however, that Biden himself made no effort to correct himself on the debate stage.