By Paul Thurman
On Tuesday night, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett misled viewers with outdated statistics and factually dishonest claims about furloughed police officers in an interview with CNN host Piers Morgan and Milwaukee Sheriff David Clarke. Barrett, a co-founder of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, stated that 40 percent of all gun sales happen privately without any kind of background checks. Equally dishonest, Mayor Barrett also claimed that Milwaukee Police Department’s furlough days make up the city’s $29 million pension payment, something that his own budget chief denies.
On Tuesday night, Mayor Barrett stated:
I need our sheriff to support the initiative that says that individuals who sell guns insure that those guns are not being sold to criminals, they’re not being sold to people of domestic violence orders, and they’re not being sold to people of involuntary mental judgment commitments. And I need that because 40 percent of the sales are occurring outside of gun dealers.
The Washington Post and National Review Online both reveal that the data Barrett cites isn’t accurate and simply misleading. Barrett’s “40 percent” comes from a 1997 poll done by the Institute of Justice that surveyed just 251 people. The survey mostly covered sales before the Brady Act instituted mandatory federal background checks on February 28, 1994. In addition, both articles points out that guns are not sold in the same way today that they were sold when this survey took place.
Barrett also went on to say, We have three furlough days so that we can make a pension payment of $29 million for our police and have no layoffs.
But according to Barrett’s own budget chief Mark Nicolini, the assertion that Milwaukee has furlough days to make pension payments isn’t true and quite misleading. Nicolini told the Wisconsin Reporter that the three furlough days for each of the 1,500 police officers would save the fiscally constricted city of Milwaukee just $1.5 million, not the $29 million as Barrett claims.
In both instances, CNN host Piers Morgan failed to ask the Mayor where he got his information and instead ridiculed the Sheriff for not providing statistics on Milwaukee citizens defending themselves with firearms.
Despite being called out on his false claims, Mayor Barrett was unrelenting in his dishonesty, brazenly pushing his agenda and misrepresenting the facts.