FACT CHECK: Did Dianne Feinstein Say ‘All Vets Are Mentally Ill’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

A post shared on Facebook more than 45,000 times claims Democratic California Sen. Dianne Feinstein once said, “All vets are mentally ill in some way and government should prevent them from owning firearms.”

Verdict: False

There is no evidence Feinstein ever made the comment. A Feinstein spokesperson denied the senator ever said it.

Fact Check:

The claim that Feinstein once disparaged U.S. military veterans by saying they are all “mentally ill in some way” has circulated the internet since at least 2013. It recently resurfaced in a widely shared Facebook post that insists, “She really said it on Thursday in a meeting in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee.”

But the Daily Caller News Foundation didn’t find any record of her making the comment in a search of resources like her Senate website and the congressional record. It appears nowhere on her social media, and media outlets have not attributed the quote to her.

Tom Mentzer, a spokesman for Feinstein, told The Associated Press in 2018 that the quote was false. (RELATED: Is This Quote Real? Meme Quotes Dianne Feinstein On Gun Control)

The quote appears to be a distortion of comments Feinstein made when she and other Democratic legislators introduced the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013 following the mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. While in a committee markup of the bill, Republican Texas Sen. John Cornyn proposed an amendment that would allow military veterans to be exempt from the ban, according to The Associated Press.

In response, Feinstein expressed concern about such an exemption, saying, “The problem with expanding this is that, you know, with the advent of PTSD, which I think is a new phenomenon as a product of the Iraq War, it’s not clear how the seller or transferrer of a firearm covered by this bill would verify that an individual was a member, or a veteran, and that there was no impairment of that individual with respect to having a weapon like this,” according to video of the hearing.

She added that she would be “happy to sit down with you again and see if we can work something out but I think we have to – if you’re going to do this, find a way that veterans who are incapacitated for one reason or another mentally, don’t have access to this kind of weapon.”

Video of the committee hearing shows Feinstein is raising concerns about the mental health of some veterans, not all. At no point during the debate does she suggest that all veterans suffer from mental illness or that they should be prohibited from owning all types of firearms.

The false quote has been debunked previously by several fact-checking websites, including Factcheck.org, Snopes and PolitiFact.

Feinstein’s office did not return a request for comment.

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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