FACT CHECK: Did George Washington Say, ‘When Any Nation Mistrusts Its Citizens With Guns, It’s Sending A Clear Message’?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims that former President George Washington once said, When a nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it’s sending a clear message… It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans.”

Verdict: False. 

It appears nowhere in Washington’s written works or recorded speeches. His estate at Mount Vernon includes the expression on its list of “spurious quotations.”

Fact Check:

George Washington, the first U.S. president and a prominent figure in the Revolutionary War, has been credited with coining a multitude of quotes about firearms, governance and citizens’ rights. (RELATED: Did George Washington Say, ‘Firearms Stand Next In Importance To The Constitution Itself?)

There’s no evidence, however, that this particular quote about firearms originated with Washington. The Daily Caller searched his writings and recorded speeches, but neither collection yielded any similar or matching phrases.

Washington’s estate at Mount Vernon also includes the expression on its list of “spurious quotations.”

“The quote seems to originate from an online publication: The American Wisdom Series presents Pamphlet #230, ‘President George Washington’s Thoughts on Firearms,'” states the Mount Vernon website. “The author provides no citation for the quotations used.”

Indeed, it appears unattributed in the pamphlet written by one Joe Spenner. The statement may have originated with him, as he includes it in the section of the pamphlet that appears to be his own commentary. The rest of the pamphlet contains sayings about firearms that are attributed to Washington, though some of those are also spurious. The pamphlet has been online since at least 2002, according to etymologist Barry Popik.

“The anti-gun saying is often accompanied with a photo of Dianne Feinstein, a senator from California who frequently sponsors gun control legislation,” noted Popik.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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