April 28, 2020 / 3:32 PM / a month ago

False claim: George Washington on trusting citizens with guns

Shared widely on social media, posts quote first U.S. President George Washington as saying: “When any nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans” ( here ; here here ).

There is no evidence that Washington ever said this.

George Washington’s estate includes the quote on its website’s list of false quotes wrongly attributed to him ( here ). According to MountVernon.org: “The quote seems to originate from an online publication: The American Wisdom Series presents Pamphlet #230, ‘President George Washington's Thoughts on Firearms.’  The author provides no citation for the quotations used.”

The online pamphlet, found here lists its author as Joe Spenner. The text, which includes numerous punctuation and spelling mistakes, attributes what it claims to be Washington’s thoughts on guns to his “Address to the Second Session First United States Congress.” The first U.S. Congress met from March 4, 1789 to March 3, 1791 ( here ). Washington gave the first ever State of the Union address on January 8, 1790 ( here) and the second on December 8, 1790 ( here ). Neither address mentions the words “guns” or “firearms.”

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence George Washington ever said: “When any nation mistrusts its citizens with guns, it is sending a clear message. It no longer trusts its citizens because such a government has evil plans.”

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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