Claim: Joe Biden said 150 million Americans died from guns and 120 million from COVID-19
Former Vice President Joe Biden has drawn mockery and criticism – primarily from conservatives – for verbal missteps throughout his presidential campaign.
One Facebook post pulled out two statistical claims, connected to gun violence and COVID-19.
The post July 13, accompanied by a laughing emoji, said, “America has around 300 million people. Joe Biden said 150 MILLION were lost to gun violence AND we just lost ANOTHER 120 million to covid-19. So I’m reaching out to my friends to see if ANY of you are still alive.”
This is obviously a joke, but it raises a question about Biden’s comments. Did he really claim both of those stats?
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Biden on COVID-19 deaths
Yes, Biden made these claims on two separate occasions, though on one of them, he corrected himself immediately.
Biden made the claim regarding the U.S. COVID-19 death toll June 25 at a campaign event in Pennsylvania. He was talking about health care coverage with families.
Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden campaigns in Houston on March 2.
An ABC News Facebook Live video shows an attendee at the event mentioned the stress she felt over finances, in addition to hospital treatments, and how that lowered her already low mental health.
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“That’s why we have a major multibillion-dollar investment in mental health,” Biden answered. “What people drastically underestimate is the impact on the mental health of people who now, everything is complicated. People don’t have a job. People don’t have anywhere to go. They don’t know what they’re going to do.”
He said, “Now we have over 120 million dead from COVID, I mean, 120,000 dead from COVID,” according to audio obtained by Snopes.com.
Biden on gun violence deaths
Biden made the gun violence claim in the final Democratic primary debate Feb. 25 in South Carolina, where he said that 150 million Americans had died since 2007 from gun violence.
“In addition to that, I passed the Brady bill with waiting periods. I led that fight. But my friend on my right,” Biden said, gesturing to Sen. Bernie Sanders, “and others have in fact also gave in to the gun manufacturers’ absolute immunity. Imagine if I stood here and said we give immunity to drug companies. We give immunity to tobacco companies. That has caused carnage on our streets; 150 million people have been killed since 2007, when Bernie voted to exempt gun manufacturers from liability. More than all the wars, including Vietnam, from that point on.”
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The Facebook post is correct that he made these claims, although it omits the date range Biden used and doesn’t give Biden credit for immediately correcting the COVID-19 data error.
The real numbers
In both cases, Biden or his staff acknowledged he intended to say thousands, not millions.
As of June 25, when he made the COVID-19 statement, the death toll was more than 119,000, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center dashboard.
On the gun violence claim, a member of Biden’s campaign said Biden meant to say 150,000 people. Biden has previously referenced that stat correctly.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that from 2007-2018, there were 148,182 firearm homicides.
Our ruling: True
We rate this claim TRUE based on our research. Biden did cite the numbers used in the post, both of which are drastically wrong. Biden meant to say “thousands” in both cases, not “millions.” In one case, Biden corrected himself immediately. In the other, it wasn’t until after the debate that an aide clarified the number.
Our fact-check sources
Liberals are Lunatics group, Facebook post, July 13, 2020
ABC News Live: “Joe Biden meets with families in Lancaster,” June 25, 2020
CBS News: “CBS News Democratic debate in Charleston, South Carolina: Watch in full,” Feb. 20, 2020
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: “Compare Causes/States For Fatal Injury Data Visualization Tool.”
Daniel Dale, tweet, Feb. 25, 2020
Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center, “U.S. Map,” accessed July 14, 2020
Snopes: “Did Biden Say 120 Million People Had Died from COVID-19?”, June 29, 2020
USA TODAY:, “Democratic debate FactCheck: Bloomberg misleads on tax returns, Biden flubs gun violence stat,” Feb. 26, 2020.
USA TODAY: “Biden talks about Trump’s ‘twin legacies,’ health care in swing-state Pennsylvania trip,” June 25.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Joe Biden botched stats on COVID-19, gun deaths