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Capitol rioters on January 6, 2021. (Mihoko Owada/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 via AP) Capitol rioters on January 6, 2021. (Mihoko Owada/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 via AP)

Capitol rioters on January 6, 2021. (Mihoko Owada/STAR MAX/IPx 2021 via AP)

Gabrielle Settles
By Gabrielle Settles July 13, 2021

Jan. 6 defendants were armed with guns, other weapons, documents show

If Your Time is short

  • Court documents show that some of the more than 430 people charged with crimes related to the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol brought guns onto Capitol grounds or stashed them away while staying in Washington.

  • Many defendants used other weapons such as clubs, pepper spray, bear spray and flagpoles.

President Donald Trump claimed on Fox News that there were no guns in the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021.

During an on-air conversation with Trump on July 11, "Sunday Morning Futures" host Maria Bartiromo twice broached the topic of whether guns were present during the attack at the Capitol.

"They called it an armed insurrection, and yet no guns were seized," Bartiromo said before describing it as being among the "misinformation" spread about Trump’s presidency.

Later, she repeated the assertion: "They continue to call this an armed insurrection," Bartiromo said. "And yet no guns were seized, Mr. President."

"Right," Trump answered. "There were no guns whatsoever." 

Trump went on to describe the events of Jan. 6 by saying that "people with no guns walked down" to the Capitol, that the building’s doors were open, and that there was a "lovefest" between the Capitol police and the insurrectionists.

Court documents, video evidence and news coverage directly contradict this characterization. 

Many of those involved in the attack were armed, and several had guns that police later seized. The event was far from a lovefest: Five people died, including a Capitol Police officer, and more than 140 officers were injured in the day’s events. Video evidence shows both police officers and rioters being injured in the brawls. Rioters called for hanging then-Vice President Mike Pence and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Damage to the Capitol is estimated at $1.5 million and included ransacked offices, broken windows and doors, broken and stolen photography equipment, ruined statues, murals and furniture. A pending security funding bill provides dollars to cover related expenses, including tightened security and trauma counseling.

PolitiFact reviewed the case files of approximately 430 defendants who were arrested and charged for their actions at the Capitol. We found several defendants who police say were found to have brought firearms with them. Some were charged with having firearms on Capitol grounds, while others stashed them away while in Washington.

They included:

Featured Fact-check

Lonnie Coffman of Alabama: Police found multiple firearms and weapons in Coffman’s possession. Coffman’s truck, which he had parked in the vicinity of the Capitol on the morning of Jan. 6, was packed with weaponry including a handgun, a rifle and a shotgun, each loaded, according to court documents. In addition, the truck held hundreds of rounds of ammunition, several large-capacity ammunition feeding devices, a crossbow with bolts, machetes, camouflage smoke devices, a stun gun and 11 Molotov cocktails.

Court records and video surveillance footage show that Coffman, who had ties to militia groups, parked the vehicle near the Capitol at 9:15 a.m. that day. The documents say that after he got out of his pickup truck at 9:20 a.m., he joined a crowd of people who walked directly to the Capitol building. 

He was detained later that evening as an unnamed woman was driving him back toward his truck. Police questioned Coffman and searched him, finding two more handguns on his person. None of the weapons were registered, documents state. 

Guy Reffitt of Texas: Reffitt was charged with bringing a handgun onto Capitol grounds. Court documents showed that Reffitt, reported in court documents to be a member of the militia group Three Percenters, told his family he brought his gun with him and that he and others "stormed the Capitol." 

Christopher Michael Alberts of Maryland: Alberts brought his handgun onto Capitol grounds. An officer saw that Alberts had a gun on his hip and alerted fellow officers. When Alberts tried to flee, officers detained him and recovered the loaded handgun along with a separate magazine.

The total number of people who carried firearms with them that day may not ever be fully accounted for because the majority of those involved in the siege were not arrested on-site but were tracked down by law enforcement days, weeks and months later.

It’s also worth noting that the definition of "armed" is not legally limited to guns — it refers to any weapon used for defense or offense and used as a means of protection. Other items used as weapons Jan. 6 included bats, crutches, flagpoles, skateboards, fire extinguishers and chemical sprays.

We reached out to Trump’s team to ask for evidence behind his statements but did not hear back. We also reached out to Fox News for comment but did not get a response by deadline.

Our ruling

Trump said there were "no guns whatsoever" at the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and that "people with no guns" walked down to the Capitol.

Court records and news reports show that many insurrectionists were armed, and several were charged with having firearms on Capitol grounds or stashed nearby while in Washington D.C. In addition, rioters had weapons other than firearms and used them during the attack.

We rate this claim False.

Our Sources

Sunday Morning Futures transcript, July 11, 2021

New York Times, These Are the 5 People Who Died in the Capitol Riot, Feb. 22, 2021

WUSA9 Youtube, Capitol riot: Video shows men beat, drag officer into savage mob, July 10, 2021

YouTube, Trump supporters threaten to hang Mike Pence at Capitol, Jan. 8, 2021

PBS, WATCH: Video shows Capitol ‘mob calling for the death of the vice president,’ Plaskett says, Feb. 10, 2021

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Pa. woman charged in Capitol riot recorded saying she wanted to ‘hang’ Nancy Pelosi, May 19, 2021

The Washington Post, Jan. 6 riot caused $1.5 million in damage to Capitol – and U.S. prosecutors want defendants to pay, June 3, 2021

NPR, From Trauma Counselors To Fencing, What’s In The House-Passed Capitol Security Bill, May 20, 2021

PolitiFact, Misinformation and the Jan. 6 insurrection: When ‘patriot warriors’ were fed lies, June 30, 2021

CourtListener, United States of America v. Lonie Leroy Coffman, accessed July 12, 2021

Court Listener, video surveillance images, accessed July 12, 2021

Montgomery Advertiser, Court docs: Alabama man arrested after Capitol riot has militia ties, sought meeting with Ted Cruz, May 25, 2021

CNN, January 6 rioter charged with bringing gun to Capitol grounds, undercutting GOP claims that the pro-Trup mob was unarmed, June 17, 2021

U.S. Department of Justice, United States of America v. Guy Wesley Reffitt, accessed July 12, 2021

U.S. Department of Justice, Christopher Alberts - Statement of Facts, accessed July 13, 2021

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Jan. 6 defendants were armed with guns, other weapons, documents show

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