Former President Barack Obama on Monday repeated the now-debunked claim that there have been 18 school shootings in 2018 after the Parkland, Fla., massacre on February 14 that took the lives of 17 people and wounded 16 others.
The claim went unchallenged by the moderator, which was debunked shortly after the shooting initially by the Washington Examiner. It was also fact-checked by the Washington Post and even Snopes. Despite the fact that it was debunked, it didn't stop the former president from spreading the lie.
"If you ask me the thing that broke my heart, particularly when now I see there have been, and I've gotta update this, [...] 18 shootings in schools this year... this year!" Obama told the audience. "And for the medical community, you see the statistics. The leading causes of death among young people in this country have all but, [car] traffic starts going down and stabilizing, gun-inflicted fatalities where you combine suicide and gun violence, it just keeps rising."
During his keynote address at the interventional cardiology conference, also known as CRT 2018, at the DAR Constitutional Hall (less than a block away from the White House), Obama recalled that the political fallout of the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., remains the most frustrating and worst parts of his presidency.
"Probably the thing that haunts me the most is the fact that after 20 six-year-olds were gunned down in the most brutal fashion possible, so much so that the police who found them had to get counseling and I had to spend hours with the parents after children they had sent off to school, almost toddlers, did not come home. Despite that, I could not get this Congress to move on anything, even the most modest approaches to reducing gun violence in our society," Obama explained. "It was the worst day of my presidency. I've said it before. And the fact that we didn't try was shameful. It was embarrassing."
Although Obama's frustration over a lack of government solutions to reducing gun violence is warranted, President Trump is now faced with a similar obstacle following the Parkland shooting and has to straddle a line that doesn't alienate his base and organizations that have backed him, one of which includes the National Rifle Association.
In the past week, Trump suggested that one solution to reducing gun violence was circumventing due process, saying, "Take the firearms first and then go to court because that’s another system — a lot of times by the time you go to court, it takes so long to go to court, to get the due process procedures."
NRA Executive Director Chris Cox later met with the president and said he was assured that Trump supports the Second Amendment, in addition to "strong due process."
Congress has yet to come to an agreement on anything gun-related, but the debate will be fierce, especially if it's met with more lies that former presidents continue to promulgate.
Siraj Hashmi is a commentary video editor and writer for the Washington Examiner.