PolitiFact Georgia and the AJC Truth-O-Meter last week examined reader-suggested claims, involving the president’s safety and guns.
President Barack Obama has made some controversial calls during his time in office, and we researched whether threats against him exceeded those of any other president.
We also investigated whether Georgia is one of the three states with the unfortunate designation of being the main sources for trafficked guns. And we banged our way into the world of pyrotechnics to check out a claim about whether Georgia was losing out on millions of dollars because residents go out of state to buy their fireworks.
Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below, and full versions can be found at: www.politifact.com/georgia/. The website also features ongoing fact checks of claims made by state lawmakers during the legislative session.
To comment on our rulings or suggest one of your own, go to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/politifact.georgia). You can also find us on Twitter (http://twitter.com/politifactga).
Julian Bond: “The incidents of threats against (President Barack Obama) are greater than for any other president in modern times.”
Bond, a civil rights legend, made this claim recently on “The Colbert Report,” and a reader asked us to check it out. Bond is a former chairman of the NAACP, a founder of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives. His son is currently a member of the Atlanta City Council.
We tried to reach Bond through a company that arranges interviews for him, the university where he teaches and his university email, but our efforts were unsuccessful.
Others have made claims about Obama’s safety, and the claims seem to all derive from one source. In 2009, an author who’s written about the Secret Service estimated that the number of threats against Obama had increased by 400 percent in comparison to George W. Bush.
But the Secret Service director at that time told a congressional committee and U.S. News that the author’s claim was false.
A U.S. Secret Service spokesman told us the agency does not discuss the number of threats against any president, and the agency has also said it doesn’t want copycats to get any ideas.
There’s no concrete evidence that Bond and others have produced to back up their claim.
We rated Bond’s statement False.
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran: Says Virginia, Florida and Georgia are the three states that are the principal source for gun trafficking.
Moran made this claim last month as he talked about Newtown, Conn., and gun proposals during floor debate about gun violence. Again, a reader passed it along to us for review.
The claim was based on a report by the Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition of U.S. mayors working to help law enforcement target illegal guns, that used “crime gun trace data” from the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. From 2007 to 2009, those three states held the top three spots for crime guns that are trafficked to other states. In 2006, Texas overtook Florida for the third spot, but Georgia held the top position throughout the four-year period.
However, adjusting for population, Virginia, Georgia and Florida all drop to Nos. 7, 10 and 29, respectively, in 2009.
Moran’s statement is accurate but lacks that important detail. Ultimately, the data and experts tie the gun trafficking to states’ gun laws, and these three states have laws that are less restrictive than others surrounding them.
We rated Moran’s statement Mostly True.
Georgia Sen. Jeff Mullis: Georgia loses “millions of dollars of revenue because people go out of state to buy fireworks.”
Mullis made this claim at the Gold Dome earlier this month while arguing for a resolution that would allow revenue from fireworks sales to be used to help fund trauma care and firefighter services in the state. Currently nothing with more pop than a sparkler can be sold in Georgia.
The American Pyrotechnics Association, a trade group, says consumers nationwide spent $649 million on fireworks in 2011, up from $284 million in 1998. The figures were not broken down by states.
Doing our own calculations, a per capita breakdown of the figures equates to about $20 million being spent by Georgians in 2011. A 6 percent tax or fee would be at least $3 million annually.
A reader asked us to check out the claim, but there is no specific research to support Mullis’ argument. We do know some Georgians go outside the state to buy fireworks, and it does seem like people spend millions of dollars on fireworks in other states.
It would be useful if there was research to back up Mullis’ claim, but based on the specific numbers we have from other states, we rate his claim Mostly True.