Joe Biden claim: 'I've been to every mass shooting'
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and Florida Democratic Rep. Maxwell Frost announced the creation of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention on Sept. 22, which Harris will oversee.
During his speech about the new office, Biden said, “After every mass shooting we hear a simple message, the same message heard all over the country, and I’ve been to every mass shooting: Do something. Please do something."
Biden’s claim that he’d been to every mass shooting quickly garnered attention and criticism on social media, including from the Republican National Convention and former Donald Trump attorney Jenna Ellis.
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Our rating: False
Biden has visited only a fraction of the mass shooting sites during his presidency. Among the 24 public shootings with four or more victims since he was sworn in, Biden traveled to only four.
Biden visited sites in Atlanta, Uvalde, Buffalo, California
The tally of mass shootings in the U.S. depends on how you define the term, but there's no definition where Biden's claim is close to true.
The Gun Violence Archive, for example, defines mass shootings as one with four people injured or killed, not counting the shooter. They list more than 500 such events so far in 2023, of which Biden has visited one.
On March 14, Biden went to Monterey Park, California, where 11 people were killed at a dance hall. His visit came after he signed an executive order to increase the number of background checks as a prerequisite for firearm sales.
Even considering only the most serious, high-profile shootings, Biden's visits have been sparse.
USA TODAY, along with Northeastern University and the Associated Press, has tracked all mass killings in which four or more people have died since 2006. That data shows there have been 24 mass shootings in public spaces since 2021, the year Biden became president.
A USA TODAY review of news coverage after each shooting found Biden has visited four of those 24 mass shooting sites.
On March 16, 2021, a gunman entered three massage parlors in Atlanta and killed eight people, six of whom were Asian women. Biden and Harris went together to Atlanta three days later and met with state legislators and Asian American advocates. Both Biden and Harris delivered public remarks about the shooting.
On May 17, 2022, Biden visited a Tops Friendly Market in Buffalo, New York, after a man motivated by a racist conspiracy theory killed 10 Black people there. The Bidens visited the site’s memorial and met with families of the victims. The president also delivered remarks at a local community center.
Later that month, the Bidens went to Uvalde, Texas, to visit the community where 19 children and two teachers had been gunned down in a mass shooting at Robb Elementary on May 24, 2022.
Then Biden visited Monterey Park in March 2023.
But Biden has not visited mass shooting sites such as Half Moon Bay, California, where a farmworker killed seven people on Jan. 23 at two mushroom farms in what was likely an incident of workplace violence. Nor did he go to Allen, Texas, where a gunman opened fire outside of an outlet mall and killed eight people on May 6. Biden gave remarks on the March 27 shooting at The Covenant School in Nashville, Tennessee, but did not visit the site.
USA TODAY reached out to the White House comment but did not immediately receive a response.
Our fact-check sources:
USA TODAY, updated Sept. 23, Mass killing database: Revealing trends, details and anguish of every US event since 2006
The White House, March 14, FACT SHEET: President Biden Announces New Actions to Reduce Gun Violence and Make Our Communities Safer
C-SPAN, March 19, 2021, Presidential Remarks at Emory University
NPR, May 17, 2022, In a visit to Buffalo, President Biden denounces white supremacy as a poison
Gun Violence Archive, accessed Sept. 22, 2023, Mass Shootings in 2023
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Biden fact check: President claims he visited every mass shooting site