US Republican presidential hopeful Ted Cruz claimed earlier this month in a radio interview that significantly more women have been raped in Australia since strict gun laws were introduced by the Howard government.
Now the Washington Post has torn his claims to shreds.
The Washington Post’s Fact Checker column took to Cruz’s comment and rated it as a “whopper” of a factual error, the highest rating they give.
“As you know, Hugh, after Australia did that [gun buyback program], the rate of sexual assaults, the rate of rapes, went up significantly, because women were unable to defend themselves,” Mr Cruz told the radio host Hugh Hewitt.
“There’s nothing that criminals or terrorists like more than unarmed victims.”
Senator Cruz is Donald Trump’s main rival for the Republican presidential nomination, followed by senator Marco Rubio.
The gun debate is a big tool being used by Republican candidates in the presidential race, with the likes of Cruz bashing President Barack Obama and Democrat hopeful Hillary Clinton’s examples of Australian gun laws at any chance they can get.
However, the Washington Post found that Cruz’s claims against Australian gun laws had no real basis, saying the gradual increases in sexual assault were likely due to a rise in the reporting of sexual assaults. They also pointed out that handguns weren’t heavily used as a method of self defence before the gun laws came into place.
“The rates didn’t go up ‘significantly’ after the buyback and there’s no evidence changes to gun laws in Australia affected sexual assault rates or jeopardised the ability of women to protect themselves,” the Washington Post wrote.
“We also warn politicians on both sides of the gun debate about making broad assertions about Australia to justify policy arguments for the United States,” the Post concluded.