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A Virginia state bill that would institute a ban on assault weapons if passed in January has led to an uptick in misinformation targeting Virginia’s leading Democrats on Facebook.
"You will give up your guns, if you don’t I’ll have the National Guard cut your power, your phone lines, and your internet. Then, if you still refuse to comply I’ll have you killed," the meme, posted Dec. 19, said above an image of Northam.
This post — the latest in a series of hoaxes targeting Northam over his support for a proposed assault weapons ban in Virginia — 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.)
Like another set of false posts about Northam, this one seems to trace back to a Dec. 13 blog post from Hal Turner, a white supremacist with a history of spreading conspiracy theories who was sentenced to 33 months in prison in 2010.
But we found no proof that Northam ever made such a statement. Northam’s press secretary, Alena Yarmosky, told us in an email that the quote is "absolutely false."
"People who spread lies like this should be ashamed of themselves," she said.
Democrats in Virginia are poised to take control of both the Senate and the House of Delegates in January, opening the door for the potential passage of proposed gun regulations such as Virginia Senate Bill 16, which would ban the possession, transport and sale of assault weapons.
The bill would expand the definition of "assault weapon" in the state and make possession of any such weapon a felony.
But there’s no evidence that Northam would order the National Guard to cut off power, phone lines and internet or otherwise punish those who disobey any ban that takes effect.
The ban does not spell out how it would deal with firearms that Virginians already own, and Northam told reporters on Dec. 11 that the state is "not going to take people’s guns away."
Northam has said he would call on law enforcement to enforce the bill, and he has also pushed back on resolutions that would make certain cities "Second Amendment sanctuaries."
We rate the Facebook post Pants on Fire!
BN Hendrix on Facebook, Dec. 19, 2019
Virginia state Senate, "Senate Bill No. 16," Nov. 18, 2019
PolitiFact, "Twitter bots spread white supremacist’s bogus story about Virginia’s proposed assault weapons ban," Dec. 20, 2019
Email interview with Alena Yarmosky, press secretary for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, Dec. 30, 2019
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