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Chris Jacobs
stated on June 13, 2020 in remarks in a debate:
Says Nate McMurray said that “gun owners are part of the most insecure and dangerous club on earth,” that “the NRA are homegrown terrorists,” and that “abortion opponents are the American Taliban.”
true mostly-true
Republican Chris Jacobs, left, and Democrat Nate McMurray, right, debate in a congressional race on June 13, 2020. (Screenshot) Republican Chris Jacobs, left, and Democrat Nate McMurray, right, debate in a congressional race on June 13, 2020. (Screenshot)

Republican Chris Jacobs, left, and Democrat Nate McMurray, right, debate in a congressional race on June 13, 2020. (Screenshot)

Meghan Hall
By Meghan Hall June 18, 2020
Julia Schneider
By Julia Schneider June 18, 2020

Fact-checking claims from a Chris Jacobs-Nate McMurray debate

If Your Time is short

• In each case, McMurray tweeted something very close to what Jacobs alleged in the debate, 

• In all cases, McMurray had used slightly different wording than what Jacobs had said. 

Republican Chris Jacobs and Democrat Nate McMurray are facing off in a June 23 special election for a congressional seat in western New York, and may also face each other in the regular election in November. Their June 13 debate got heated.

In the debate, Jacobs, a state senator, brought attention to past tweets by McMuray, his rival to fill the 27th district vacancy created when Republican Rep. Chris Collins stepped down earlier this year.

Here’s a rundown of three assertions by Jacobs, with an analysis of their accuracy.

Jacobs’ first claim

Jacobs said, "Nate tweeted, ‘Gun owners are part of the most insecure and dangerous club on earth.’" 

During the debate, McMurray countered that Jacobs "is literally making stuff up." 

Both sides have a point. McMurray did tweet about "the most insecure and dangerous club" last year, but Jacobs suggested that McMurray had targeted a broader group of gun owners for that description.

Jacobs was referring to an Aug. 3, 2019, tweet in which McMurray said, "YOU WANT TO BE A MAN? Make something. Build something. Better, help someone. Serve someone. Care for them. Your damn assault rifle has no part in that. It just makes part of the most insecure and dangerous club in the world."

Kate Walker McArdle, McMurray’s communication director, said Jacobs had unfairly conflated "gun owners" with "assault rifle" owners.

McMurray "specifically referenced assault-style weapons in his tweet," she said. "While Nate is a gun owner, he was also conveying the fact that owning an assault rifle doesn't make one a ‘man.’  His vision for America does not include assault weapons."

Jacobs’ second claim

Soon after, Jacobs said that McMurray had "said the NRA are homegrown terrorists." (The NRA is the National Rifle Association, a prominent pro-gun group.)

Here too, Jacobs has a point, though he oversimplifies a bit.

On March 8, 2018, McMurray tweeted a response to a video advertisement from NRATV, an NRA affiliate, that featured conservative commentator Dana Loesch holding a large hourglass. 

Featured Fact-check

In his tweeted response, McMurray wrote, "If ISIS made a video as threatening as the NRA’s hourglass offering, we would all be legitimately freaked out. Who is behind this ‘genius’ marketing? Are they channeling Margaret Hamilton in the Wizard of Oz? Yikes. #HomeGrownTerrorism"

So McMurray did not outright call the NRA "homegrown terrorists," his use of the hashtag above essentially aligns with Jacobs’ claim. 

Walker McArdle told PolitiFact, "This tweet was calling out the NRA for their scare tactics and videos that were highly scrutinized for threatening violence against Americans and journalists. (McMurray) did not say, ‘the NRA is a terrorist organization.’"

Jacobs’ third claim

Jacobs pulled a third claim from McMurray’s Twitter feed before the end of the night. 

Jacobs said, "I am pro-life; (McMurray) is pro-abortion. He said abortion opponents are the American Taliban. That’s another tweet of Nate McMurray."

McMurray has in fact referenced the "Taliban" or the "American Taliban" in tweets about abortion before.

On July 3, 2018, McMurray tweeted, "DO THE MATH: 67% of the public is pro choice according to recent polls. Only 2 Republican members of Congress are pro-choice. 1 President actually said he wants to PUNISH women for abortion. Forget Democracy, forget mental health, act like the Taliban and PUNISH women. OR VOTE!"

We found two other tweets in which McMurray does use the exact phrase, "American Taliban."

Walker McArdle countered, "Nate did not use the phrase ‘American Taliban.’ Just as the phrase ‘act like spoiled children’ do(es) not literally mean that the person is a spoiled child, ‘act like the Taliban’ doesn’t literally suggest someone is a member of the Taliban. But if the accusation is that Nate does not believe women should be punished for getting an abortion, that is correct."

Jacobs’ campaign team did not provide any further information or context for what Jacobs said during the debate.

Our ruling

Jacobs said McMurray had said that "gun owners are part of the most insecure and dangerous club on earth," that "the NRA are homegrown terrorists," and that "abortion opponents are the American Taliban."

In each case, McMurray did tweet something very close to what Jacobs cited in the debate, although sometimes with slightly different wording from what Jacobs used. The biggest divergence was in the first of these claims, in which McMurray was referring to people who own assault weapons rather than gun owners more generally.

The statements are accurate but need additional information, so we rate them Mostly True.

Our Sources

YouTube, "McMurray-Jacobs Debate," Nate McMurray, June 13, 2020

@Nate_McMurray, tweet, March 8, 2018

@Nate_McMurray, tweet, July 3, 2018

@Nate_McMurray, tweet, April 11, 2019

@NRATV, tweet, March 4, 2018

Email interview with Christian Chase, communications director for the Jacobs campaign, July 15, 2020

Email interviews with Kate Walker McArdle, communications director for the McMurray campaign, July 16, 2020

Fact-checking claims from a Chris Jacobs-Nate McMurray debate

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