If you believe this meme, Hillary Clinton is a threat to Americans’ Second Amendment rights. Thing is, you definitely shouldn’t believe this meme. Every part of it is a lie.
Let’s start with the alleged statement made by Presidential candidate Clinton. I deployed my considerable resources in a comprehensive fact-gathering mission to determine the veracity of this quote…I’m just kidding; I Googled it. And do you know what I found? If you’re the person who put together this meme, I’m going to guess the answer is no.
I found that the Clinton quote is completely fabricated, according to the urban legend debunking website Snopes.com, who rated this claim false:
…the link included with the above-displayed meme didn’t lead to a page containing Clinton’s purported quote. Additionally, a search of the Des Moines Register‘s archives yielded no results for the phrase in question. In fact, this utterance was absent from all major news publications.
We looked into a handful of memes posted by the “Shocking Hillary Clinton Quotes …” Tumblr page and found that the provided source links never matched up with the purported quotes.
And let’s not just take Snopes’s word for it. The fact-checking website Politifact.com called this fabricated quote “Pants on Fire”, saying:
Clinton campaigned heavily in Iowa throughout the summer and fall of 2015, and Register reporters and the paper’s editorial board interviewed her several times. But she was not in Iowa on Aug. 8, when she allegedly made the statement. Clinton’s first visit to Iowa in the month of August occurred on Aug. 14, followed by public events on Aug. 15 and Aug. 26.
A review of the Register’s archives show Clinton was neither interviewed nor quoted directly on Aug. 8 or in the days immediately following.
It is well known that Hillary Clinton does support stronger gun control laws, including broader background checks, especially at gun shows. She also proposes restricting gun sales to domestic abusers and the mentally ill. At no point, however, has she publicly called for banning all handguns or dismantling the NRA.
Now let’s talk about George Washington, the man who, according to myth, could not tell a lie. Too bad the author of this meme didn’t follow his example.
Politifact weighs in on this quote as well. Spoiler alert: it’s made up. According to Politifact, Edward Lengel, editor-in-chief of the Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia, says “there is no evidence that Washington ever wrote or said these words, or any like them.” Lengel then says that while it’s impossible to prove a negative, he’s quite certain that the quote did not originate from George Washington.
What was Washington’s stance on gun ownership, while we’re on the topic? In George Washington’s own words (his real words, taken from his first State of the Union address in 1790):
A free people ought not only to be armed, but disciplined; to which end a uniform and well-digested plan is requisite; and their safety and interest require that they should promote such manufactories as tend to render them independent of others for essential, particularly military, supplies. (emphasis mine)
Washington experts agree that the first President was referring to a trained militia for defending the new nation, and for national self-sufficiency in creating military supplies. Lengel explains:
The idea of resistance to tyranny being dependent on a nation of gun-wielding individuals acting at their own behest or even on local initiative would have been anathema to Washington. Indeed, during the (Revolutionary) war he very frequently lamented the crimes carried out by armed civilians or undisciplined militia against their unarmed neighbors. The solution to these crimes, as he understood it, was to increase the power of the government and the army to prevent and punish them — not to put more guns in the hands of civilians.
If you are in favor of looser gun control laws, it seems that George Washington might not be your primary source for inspirational quotes.
I’m not telling you this to sway your vote, by the way. To paraphrase a meme from long ago, I don’t care if you don’t like Hillary Clinton – or any political candidate – but I do care if the reason why is a lie. In fact, I mind it very much if any of your political opinions are based on lies. Do some research, and make sure you know exactly whom and what you are voting for – as much as it is possible to know – when you step into the booth. You owe your fellow Americans that much.