July 15, 2021

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:

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.

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Gabrielle Settles is a reporter covering misinformation for PolitiFact. Previously, she was a staff writer for The Weekly Challenger and staff member and reporter for…
Gabrielle Settles

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  • **some defendants were armed, documents show.**

    The article goes on to refer to the documents and identify the “some” who were armed with guns as three persons.

    The choice to use “some” instead of the number “three” counts as spin, encouraging readers to overestimate the number of guns among those who illegally entered the Capitol building on Jan. 6.

    Unless Poynter wants to tell me that using one extra letter in the deck would result in an earth-shattering loss of SEO performance?

    Perhaps Poynter will want to defend the wording by saying that it talked about persons who were “armed” which (as the article points out) could mean things other than guns. But that doesn’t really help, because the article was supposedly fact-checking the presence of guns, not arms of any type. If that’s the defense, then its a case of crafty equivocation.

    Is that the mark of high-quality journalism these days?