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Fabricated quote about guns attributed to Virginia governor

January 17, 2020 GMT

CLAIM: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam said if people don’t give up guns, the National Guard will cut off their power, and have them killed. 

AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The statement was fabricated. Since winning a majority of seats in the state legislature last year, Democrats have introduced multiple pieces of legislation around gun control, but Northam has said he has no plans of confiscating guns from current legal gun owners. 

THE FACTS: In recent weeks, a number of posts featuring the fabricated quote attributed to Northam have circulated on blog posts and Facebook. 

“You will give up your guns, if you don’t I’ll have the National Guard cut your power, your phone lines, and your internet. Then, if you still refuse to comply I’ll have you killed,” the fabricated quote states, citing Northam, a Democrat, as the source. 

Northam has responded to the false claim saying he has no plans to confiscate guns. 

“Saying things like that we’re going to cut off people’s electricity — I don’t know where things like that come from but they’re intimidating, they provoke fear, they’re not necessary,” he said, speaking at a Jan. 7 news conference where he discussed misinformation circulating around new gun-control.

The fabricated quote has circulated widely in recent weeks and in advance of a pro-gun rally expected to draw thousands of activists to the Virginia Capitol on Monday. One Facebook user said the quote was calling for “bloodshed and civil war.” 

For the first time in a generation, Democrats gained full control of the statehouse in 2019 and are set to pass a number of gun-control measures, including limiting handgun purchases to once a month, universal background checks on gun purchases, and allowing localities to ban guns in public buildings, parks and other areas,  the AP reported.

Some of those measures have passed the Senate largely along party lines, and are headed to the House.

One piece of Senate legislation that would have made it a felony to own assault weapons such as AR-15s was killed amid fierce opposition. One of the key issues was that the bill did not include a clause that would have allowed current owners to keep those guns and it was seen as a way of confiscating weapons.  

Virginia lawmakers banned guns inside the Capitol and a legislative office building. And due to a gun rights rally planned for Monday, the governor declared a state of emergency, issuing a temporary ban on guns on Capitol grounds as well. 

Republicans and gun-rights groups have pledged stiff resistance to changes in the state’s gun laws. More than 100 counties, cities and towns have declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries and vowed to oppose any new “unconstitutional restrictions” on guns.


This is part of The Associated Press’ ongoing effort to fact-check misinformation that is shared widely online, including work with Facebook to identify and reduce the circulation of false stories on the platform.

Here’s more information on Facebook’s fact-checking program: