Fact check: Kamala Harris didn't say she'd send police to take firearms via executive order

Ella Lee, USA TODAY
·4 min read

Claim: Kamala Harris said if she’s elected, she’ll sign an executive order to forcibly confiscate guns.

Since California Sen. Kamala Harris was selected Aug. 11 to run alongside presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, misinformation about her background and eligibility has spread rapidly.

A post gaining traction on Facebook claims Harris once said if elected, she’d send law enforcement to take people’s guns.

“If elected and you don’t surrender your guns, I will sign an executive order and the police will show up at your door,” the post reads, attributing that quote to Harris.

The Facebook page that posted the claim, “YET-iheart-NRA,” said the post was intended to be hypothetical, but that its implications should be taken seriously in its response to USA TODAY's request for comment and clarification.

"Anyone with an understanding of how government works (which should be every one of high school age and older) understands VP’s can’t do executive orders," the page said over Facebook Messenger. "This is a hypothetical. Her public history of gun confiscation comments shows that if she assumes the role of president, which a lot of people see as a real possibility, given Biden wrestles with senility, this isn’t that much of a stretch."

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Harris didn’t say that

The quote attributed to Harris in the post is fabricated. It first began circulating after Harris gave her views on gun control at a Democratic debate on April 22, 2019. Harris was asked about school shootings during a CNN town hall event, and she answered with her plan for gun control.

"Upon being elected (president), 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.

More: Kamala Harris: 'I will take executive action' on gun control if I am elected president

At the time, she said the executive action would include a background check requirement for “anyone who sells more than five guns a year” and that she would direct the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to focus more on the firearms aspect of its regulatory and law enforcement mandate.

"I will require that for any gun dealer that breaks the law, the ATF take their license," she said.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris of California at the Democratic debate in 2019 in Houston.
Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris of California at the Democratic debate in 2019 in Houston.

Several months after the fake quote started circulating, the Washington Examiner, a conservative publication, asked Harris at an AFSCME forum in Las Vegas whether her plan would include legal gun owner databases or gun confiscation via law enforcement visits to residents that owned banned guns. She reiterated her executive action plan and then dove into her history with the issue.

“I also have as part of my background and experience working on this issue, when I was attorney general (of California), and we put resources into allowing law enforcement to actually knock on the doors of people who were on two lists – a list where they had been found by a court to be a danger to themselves and others and were on a list where they were precluded and prohibited from owning a gun because of a conviction that prohibited that ownership,” Harris said. “Those lists were combined and then we sent law enforcement out to take those guns, because, listen, we have to deal with this on all levels, but we have to do this with a sense of urgency and we have to act – enough with the talk.”

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In the sentence after that, Harris warned about the conflation of lawful gun ownership and illegal gun ownership, saying “they are separate and they are different.” Harris’ full answer can be heard on the Examiner’s YouTube.

Harris never tied her proposed executive order to sending police to legal or illegal gun-owners’ homes to forcibly take away their firearms.

Our rating: False

Kamala Harris did not say that if she were elected that she would sign an executive order to forcibly confiscate guns, making this claim FALSE. She said that if she were elected president, she would take executive action to pass “reasonable gun safety laws” if Congress did not within the first 100 days of her term. At a campaign event, when asked specifically about the claim, she said she had in the past sent officers to take guns from people who were not legally allowed to have them.

Our fact check sources:

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Fact check: Harris didn't say she'd send police to confiscate guns