Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine is getting fact-checked for claiming the Las Vegas shooter was “only” stopped because he did not have a silencer on his guns.
The Virginia senator made the comments to The Washington Post on Monday, as his 2016 running mate Hillary Clinton made similar remarks – taking to Twitter to imagine how much deadlier the massacre might have been if silencers had been used.
“He only was stopped finally because he didn’t have a silencer on his weapon,” Kaine told The Washington Post. “And the sound drew people to the place where he was ultimately stopped. Can you imagine what this would have been if he’d had silencers on these weapons?”
Both Clinton and Kaine brought up silencers, or suppressors, out of concern that Congress was poised to approve legislation making it easier to get the devices. (The vote still has not been scheduled.)
But The Washington Post Fact Checker gave Kaine “Two Pinocchios” for his comments.
In a lengthy examination of the claims, the Post touched on several arguments critics made to challenge Clinton’s original Twitter comments – namely, that suppressors do not actually silence a weapon and might not have done much to mask the sound of the Las Vegas shooter’s hotel-room arsenal.
“Various reports have indicated that the Las Vegas shooter had AR-15-type rifles. A 30-decibel reduction means an AR-15 rifle would have a noise equivalent of 132 decibels. That is considered equivalent to a gunshot or a jackhammer,” the Post wrote.
The fact check noted that suppressors “may make it more difficult to locate the source of a sound,” and reported Kaine’s staff said that’s what the senator was talking about. Kaine’s staff noted guests and police reporting how they heard the noise of the gunfire.
“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,” spokeswoman Sarah Peck told the Post.
But the same column noted that officials located the gunman based on the trajectory of the shots as well.
“Paddock then gave himself away when he fired at a security guard checking rooms on the 32nd floor,” the Post wrote.
The column concluded: “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. … 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. … 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.”