Accuracy in Media

On the same day that Hillary Clinton tweeted that the Las Vegas massacre would have been much worse if the shooter had used a silencer, her former running mate Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) made essentially the same claim in an interview with the Washington Post.

“He was only stopped finally because he did not have a silencer on his weapon. And the sound drew people to the place where he was ultimately stopped. Can you imagine what this would have been if he had silencers on these weapons?”
— Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.), interview with the Washington Post, Oct. 2, 2017

That caught the eye of Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler, who had called out Clinton’s tweet by pointing out that an AR-15 with a silencer was still as loud as a jackhammer.

Kessler says that Kaine’s staff told him he knew this, but his explanation doesn’t back that up.

Kaine’s staff, citing the raw audio of police communications that night, compiled an extensive timeline to demonstrate that the gunshots led the police to Paddock’s room. For instance, one police officer said: “I’m inside the Mandalay Bay on the 31st floor, I can hear the automatic fire coming from one floor ahead, one floor above us.”

Kaine staff also noted the story of a guest two floors below who reported the sounds of weapons fire. “I could just hear the gunshots. Continuously. Just full automatic,” said Chris Bethel, an Iraq War veteran. “There’s explosions going off. It was like, a bomb just went off, man. And then there were more gunshots.”

But given that AR-15 rifles, even with suppressors, are as loud as jackhammers, this does not demonstrate that the gunman was “only stopped” because he did not have a suppressor, as Kaine asserted.

“Senator Kaine was making the case that the gunman was stopped when he was because the police were able to locate him on the 32nd floor of the hotel based on the sound of the gunshots,” said spokeswoman Sarah Peck.

Even though Kaine’s reasoning on silencers was basically the same as Clinton’s and that of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) — who was awarded three Pinocchios for her claim on silencers in March — Kessler gave Kaine the benefit of the doubt and gave him just two Pinocchios.

Kaine should be more careful when talking about weapons, especially during a national tragedy. We will accept his staff’s explanation that he meant that silencers muffle a gunshot’s source, even though his phrasing certainly sounded like he meant that silencers actually made firearms quiet. Regular readers know we don’t try to play gotcha here at The Fact Checker.

But in any case, the evidence does not support Kaine’s claim that the shooter was “only stopped” because he did not have suppressors on his weapons. That’s exaggerated and could leave a misleading impression on people only familiar with silencers in the movies. The crowd under attack might have had trouble establishing the location of the shooter if he had silencers, but he fired from a hotel filled with guests who almost certainly would have heard 132 decibels from the floors above and below the attack.

Kessler may have gone soft on Kaine Pinocchio-wise, but at least he’s calling out liberal politicians for their false claims on silencers which have been ignored by his colleagues in the liberal media.

 





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