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ProgressNow Colorado Cries Foul, While Defending Gun Bill Based On A Lie

Alan Franklin, political director at ProgressNow Colorado, claimed that state Senator Mark Scheffel of Parker lied to his constituents in a February 12th, press release which defended state Representatives Rhonda Fields’ and Beth McCann’s legislation on universal background checks for all gun sales.

What was not mentioned in the hyperventilating press release was that Fields and McCann, whose legislation would require background checks on private sales and transfers, relied on a talking point that a Washington Post fact-checker gave Two Pinocchios for its inaccuracy.

Scheffel, whom Franklin claims “grossly misrepresented” legislation which seeks to restrict gun transactions performed without a background check, said in an email to constituents that the changes proposed in this legislation would, “prohibit and criminalize the private transfer of firearms.” Franklin cites language used by the National Rifle Association, and then accuses Scheffel of having duplicated the language, “verbatim from a National Rifle Association alert on the bills.”

Despite the fact the clear intent of this legislation is to prevent private sales and transfers without a background check through force of law, Franklin insists that Scheffel has lied to and incited the public.

While ProgressNow Colorado seems to apply a loose standard to what can be considered a lie to Republicans legislators, it appears they keep a different standard for legislators on the left.

The press release from Fields and McCann, also dated February 12th, explained that HB13-1229 would modify laws which exempt “gun sales that do not involve a federally licensed firearms dealer or an exhibitor at a gun show” from the requirement to perform a background check with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations. Fields and McCann go on to use the often cited, but inaccurate claim that “40 percent of gun sales pass through this loophole via purchases from unlicensed sellers.”

The claim that 40 percent of gun sales are performed with no background checks has been cited by President Obama and <a href="http://www.mayorsagainstillegalguns.org/html/media-center/pr_011413.shtml" [MAIG].

In the President’s plan, released in January, similar language to that used in the press release from the Colorado House Democrats is seen. “[N]early 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from this requirement”, the plan read.

A press release from MAIG, which detailed the roll out of their “Demand A Plan” campaign, used similar language as well.

MAIG claimed “between 40% and 50% of gun sales may take place with no background check for the buyer” before providing the text of a radio ad which uses the tragedy of the Newtown shooting to incite the public to “Demand a plan.”

The original 40% claim was based on a survey performed in 1996 by Jens Ludwig and Philip Cook. After an examination of the survey data Glenn Kessler, Washington Post fact checker, said, “rather than being 30 to 40 percent or ‘up to 40 percent’, gun purchases without background checks amounted to 14 to 22 percent.”

Media Trackers searched for a press release from Alan Franklin and ProgressNow Colorado which denounced Representatives Fields and McCann for their use of a gun control talking point which “can create a false, misleading impression by playing with words and using legalistic language that means little to ordinary people”, according to Kessler’s Pinocchios rating system.

Gun control advocates who cite the 40% statistic mislead their supporters and operate with impunity, secure in the knowledge that allies such as ProgressNow will provide them cover. Whether Fields and McCann engaged in a purposeful lie to incite the public, as Franklin accused Scheffel, or simply regurgitated an extremely exaggerated talking point popular with gun control advocates, is debatable.

This post was originally featured at Media Trackers Colorado.

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