PolitiFact: Roundup for past week

PolitiFact Georgia and the AJC Truth-O-Meter last week revisited the gun control debate and education claims, along with a beginning look at a proposed new football stadium.

President Barack Obama visited the metro area last week touting early childhood education, and we put one of his claims on the topic through the Truth-O-Meter. We also researched claims made by a state senator and a U.S. representative about gun violence, and what weapons are used the most in homicides. And we examined a claim about minority business contracts and how that history could impact a new $1 billion retractable-roof stadium being promoted by the Atlanta Falcons.

Abbreviated versions of our fact checks are below, and full versions can be found at: www.politifact.com/georgia/. The website also features ongoing fact checks of gun claims made by political and industry leaders around the country.

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Obama claims big payoff for early education programs

President Barack Obama: “Every dollar we invested in high-quality, early education programs can save more than $7 later on by boosting graduation rates, reducing teen pregnancy, even reducing crime.”

In his State of the Union speech on Feb. 12, Obama name-dropped Georgia and Oklahoma as states that have prioritized early education, and he then traveled to an early childhood education program in Decatur to reinforce his point. He also posted the claim on his Twitter account.

Obama’s figure is widely shared and based on academic reports that have tried to determine the cost of Head Start and the Perry preschool program. Whether these programs are “high-quality” is a more difficult discussion. There is debate about their long-term effectiveness because of the many factors involved in a child’s development leaving these programs.

Additionally, there’s little research on the long-term impact of these programs in Georgia and Oklahoma, so the president’s remarks seem to be a stretch at this point.

The president’s statement is partially true but needs an awful lot of context to be fully understood.

We rated Obama’s claim Half True.

Are hammers deadlier than firearms?

State Sen. Bill Jackson, R-Appling: “There’s more murders with hammers last year than … shotguns and pistols and AK-47s.”

Our partners at other PolitiFact operations have examined similar claims before. For example, some Facebook posts began to circulate that were critical of the White House’s proposal to restrict the availability of some weapons, a criticism also expressed by Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott.

We reviewed 2011 FBI totals (the most recent year available) for the types of weapons used in homicides. Handguns were used in 6,220 cases; rifles 323; shotguns 356 and blunt objects 496.

There were actually 12 times as many people killed with handguns in 2011 as with blunt objects like hammers. Jackson’s claim is way off.

We rated Jackson’s claim Pants on Fire.

What if you add baseball bats and hammers to the deadly weapons list?

U.S. Rep. Paul Broun, an Athens Republican: “There are more people killed with baseball bats and hammers than are killed with guns.”

Some gun control critics are using a similar talking point in the national debate over this issue. Broun was quoted making this statement on Slate.com.

Broun’s statement is not as specific as others examined by PolitiFact outlets. FBI data shows that 6,220 Americans were murdered by handguns in 2011. That’s more than 12 times the number of people killed with clubs or hammers, not including how many people were killed by other types of guns.

Broun’s general use of “guns” by its nature includes handguns. That makes his statement way off. FBI statistics show that 8,583 people were killed with all guns in 2011 — most of them (6,220) with handguns.

Broun is a congressman who inserted himself directly into the heated gun debate. And he’s now running for the U.S. Senate. His high-profile run for higher office means that more of his statements will end up in the glare of the spotlight. And some of them could combust.

We rated Broun’s claim Pants on Fire.

Concern about stadium work for minorities

State Sen. Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta: “What concerns me is there is only two sentences that have been written about minority business.”

Negotiations are ongoing for a proposed new $1 billion retractable-roof stadium for the Atlanta Falcons. Thus far, a term sheet laying out a nonbinding blueprint for the stadium and operations has been approved. Fort uses the brief minority business mention in the term sheet as a reason to be leery of the state’s promise to carry out minority participation promises.

A look at the term sheet shows that Fort’s statement is mostly correct. But more explanation is needed. City leaders are pushing for almost a third of the work to be done by minority businesses, and team executives have said they will offer equal opportunities. But the devil is in the details, and those details have not been worked out.

Fort’s statement is partially accurate but needed a lot of additional information.

We rated Fort’s claim Half True.

Read the full versions on Politifact.com