Hillary Clinton Is Right About Vermont Guns Ending Up In New York ... Kind Of
The Democratic race is getting tense ahead of the New York primary, and the pressure is bringing out Hillary Clinton's spin game. During an event in Port Washington, New York, Clinton attacked Bernie Sanders' position on gun control, an area of criticism he has largely been able to avoid thus far into his campaign. "Here’s what I want you to know: Most of the guns that are used in crimes and violence and killings in New York come from out of state," Clinton said before a crowd of a few hundred. "The state that has the highest per-capita number of those guns that end up committing crime in New York come from Vermont." That statement seems impossible — and in a way, it is.
Factually, Clinton's statement is correct. According to ATFE's data, 55 guns from Vermont were recovered in New York during 2014, making Vermont number 14 on the top 15 "source states" for imported guns in New York. And from that list of 15 states, Vermont has the highest number of guns per capita, just like Clinton said. By juxtaposing the state's concentration of guns with the number of guns it eventually exports to other states, she argued that Vermont's gun laws are especially dangerous and lax — an oversight for which she seems to suggest Sanders should be held responsible.
But when interpreting facts, context is key, and tacking on the per capita caveat still doesn't make the statistic scary. It just means that people in Vermont have a lot of guns, and for the most part, their guns stay in Vermont. Ultimately, a mere 1 percent of crime-linked guns recovered in New York that were traced to their sources in 2014 came from Vermont. Additionally, between 2013 and 2014, the number of guns per capita in Vermont and the number of guns from Vermont recovered in New York actually both decreased.
Virginia, the highest-ranking source state, exported over seven times the amount of guns to New York as Vermont did, but Clinton chose to leave that part out. It pretty clearly shows that she wasn't interested in reducing the crime associated with interstate gun transportation during her speech — just in attacking her opponent.
Clinton's claim works less as an attack on Bernie Sanders than it does on Clinton's own endorser, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin. Sanders has never served in either the Vermont gubernatorial office or the state legislature, and therefore never had direct part in creating Vermont's gun laws (though he has supported some more lenient provisions for gun manufacturers during his time in the Senate). Meanwhile, Shumlin received an A+ lifetime rating from the NRA in 2008. Sanders' rating? D-.
Clinton broke out her spin machine to fight Sanders for her home state, but a pretty quick look into her facts shows that she's not really telling the whole story, or a fair one. Don't believe everything you hear.