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Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden stands left as his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP) Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden stands left as his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP)

Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden stands left as his running mate Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Del., Thursday, Aug. 13, 2020. (AP)

Madison Czopek
By Madison Czopek August 17, 2020

No, Kamala Harris didn’t say this about guns

If Your Time is short

• There is no evidence Sen. Kamala Harris ever said this.

• When she was a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Harris pledged to act on gun control within 100 days of being in office, but she did not say she would sign an executive order if elected that would force people to surrender their guns.

• Other fact-checking organizations have debunked this claim.

Sen. Kamala Harris has taken a strong stance on gun control, but has she actually threatened to send police to your house to take your guns?

The short answer is no. But that hasn’t stopped social media users from spreading a fabricated quote attributed to her that suggests otherwise.

"If elected & you don’t surrender your guns, I will sign an executive order & the police will show up at your door," reads a post attributed to Harris, the newly selected running mate for presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden.

Harris didn’t say this. And there is no evidence Harris plans to force people to surrender their guns. The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

The claim appears to be a mischaracterization of a pledge Harris made during a CNN Presidential Town Hall in April 2019. 

"Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws, and if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action," Harris said during the town hall

Harris continued, clarifying what her executive action would encompass. 

"And specifically what I will do is put in place a requirement that for anyone who sells more than five guns a year, they are required to do background checks when they sell those guns," Harris said. "I will require that for any gun dealer that breaks the law, the ATF take their license."

During the town hall, Harris did not discuss confiscating guns using law enforcement officers. What’s more, a commitment to use "executive action" can refer to more than just executive orders, as the Washington Post reported.

At another campaign event in August 2019 in Las Vegas, Harris reiterated her pledge to take action on guns within 100 days of taking office. At that event, she said she would also use executive action to implement "a ban on the importation of assault rifles into our country."

In a follow-up question, Harris was asked what enforcement of an assault rifles ban might look like. A reporter is heard off-camera asking, "Does it involve law enforcement essentially going to people’s houses looking for specific banned guns? Does it involve perhaps creating a database of people who are legal gun owners? What kind of process are we talking about here?"

Harris answered by referencing her experience as attorney general in California, when she said law enforcement was permitted to confiscate guns by going to the doors of people who were both "found by a court to be a danger to themselves and others" and were also "on a list where they were precluded and prohibited from owning a gun because of a conviction."  

"I have to stress, lawful gun ownership, that is one thing. We’re talking about something else and we have to stop conflating and blending all these issues," Harris said. 

Harris did not say she planned to send law enforcement officers to the homes of all gun owners, as the post suggests. 

Any other evidence? No.

When we first spotted the false quote being shared Aug. 11 on a Facebook page called YET-iheart-NRA, PolitiFact reached out to the page administrator to ask what evidence they had to support the claim. Someone with the Facebook page responded, pointing us to an article from the blog Law Enforcement Today. That article referenced an exchange between Biden and Harris in the September 2019 Democratic presidential primary debate, found here

In it, debate moderator David Muir of ABC’s World News Tonight pointed out that Harris said she planned to use executive action to ban imports of AR-15 assault weapons if Congress did not act quickly enough. Muir explained that Biden had expressed doubts about the future president’s "constitutional authority" to ban assault weapons via executive order, which Harris had not committed to doing. 

When asked if Biden’s stated concern had a point, Harris jokingly replied, "I mean I would just say, ‘Hey Joe, instead of saying no we can’t, let’s say yes we can.’" Here again, there is no evidence she made the statement that is being attributed to her. (The post made by YET-iheart-NRA appears to have been removed since we inquired about it.)

Other fact-checking organizations debunked similar claims that circulated online in 2019, but Harris’ new role as vice presidential candidate caused the claim to reemerge. Fact-checking organizations have continued debunking the claim after it reappeared.

Our ruling

A post claims that vice presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris said, "If elected & you don’t surrender your guns, I will sign an executive order & the police will show up at your door."

This quote is fabricated. When she was running for president, Harris pledged to take executive action on gun control within the first 100 days of her administration. She did not say she would require people to surrender their guns or say she would order law enforcement to collect guns. 

We rate this claim False.

 

Our Sources

Factcheck.org, "Social Posts Spin Harris’ Gun Control Proposal," May 2, 2019

Snopes.com, "Did U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris Say She’d Sign an Executive Order as President to Forcibly Confiscate Guns?" April 30, 2019

Associated Press, "Post misrepresents Kamala Harris quote on gun safety laws," Aug. 14, 2020

USA Today, "Fact check: Kamala Harris didn't say she'd send police to take firearms via executive order," Aug. 15, 2020

CBS News, "Kamala Harris vows to take executive action on guns if elected president," April 23, 2019

CNN Politics, "Harris: I'll give Congress 100 days to pass gun laws," April 23, 2019

The Washington Post, "Harris promises to impose new gun rules if Congress won’t," April 22, 2019

USA Today, "Kamala Harris: 'I will take executive action' on gun control if I am elected president," April 23, 2019

New York Times, "Kamala Harris Proposes Executive Orders on Gun Control," April 22, 2019

YouTube, "Kamala Harris willing to send cops to people's homes to confiscate banned firearms," Aug. 3, 2019

CNN Politics, "Biden says you can't ban weapons with an executive order. Harris responds: "Let's say, 'Yes we can,'" Sept. 12, 2019

YouTube, "ABC News Democratic Debate - WATCH THE FULL DEBATE (2019)," Sept. 12, 2019

CNN, "Kamala Harris says she'll ban imports of all AR-15 style assault weapons if Congress doesn't act," May 15, 2019

Law Enforcement Today, "Biden running mate Kamala Harris at one time said she would confiscate guns through executive order," Aug. 13, 2020

 

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