Fact Check

Did Ben Shapiro Say 'Every Regular Human' Owns Zip Ties After US Capitol Riot?

Some members of the mob that attacked the Capitol were spotted wielding plastic zip cuffs.

Published Jan 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 06: Protesters enter the Senate Chamber on January 06, 2021 in Washington, DC. Congress held a joint session today to ratify President-elect Joe Biden's 306-232 Electoral College win over President Donald Trump. Pro-Trump protesters have entered the U.S. Capitol building after mass demonstrations in the nation's capital. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images) (Win McNamee/Getty Images.)
Image Via Win McNamee/Getty Images.
Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro tweeted: “Literally every regular human I know owns zip ties,” amid discussion about rioters carrying zip cuffs at the U.S. Capitol insurrection.

As a pro-Trump mob attacked the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, a number of individuals were spotted carrying plastic zip-tie handcuffs, or zip cuffs, which have been described as a common kidnapping and restraining tool.

Investigations in the aftermath of the rioting showed growing evidence that some of the people carrying zip cuffs intended to kidnap and “take hostages.”

But conservative commentator Ben Shapiro appeared to downplay the purpose of the zip ties in the attack on the Capitol. In a tweet (archived here) responding to New York Times’ editor Lauren Wolfe’s question, “Do regular humans actually buy zip-ties?” he said, “Literally every regular human I know owns zip ties.”

This was an authentic tweet posted to Shapiro's timeline. While Wolfe deleted her tweet, she posted later to clarify she meant to write flex cuffs instead of zip ties:

Shapiro’s tweet remained posted and he retweeted others supporting his zip tie comment, including one that said Wolfe "deleted her tweet because she didn’t know what zip ties were either." He received criticism for appearing to downplay the seriousness of the threat that the people with zip ties posed.

Shapiro also said "This is like Pauline Kael on steroids," referring to the famed and sharply opinionated film critic.

In a previous Snopes fact check, we noted that the zip ties photographed in the Capitol specifically appeared to be zip-tie handcuffs, also referred to as zip cuffs, plastic handcuffs or flex cuffs. The zip cuffs wielded by one of the rioters were revealed by the attorney’s office of the District of Columbia to have commonly been used as restraints by law enforcement.

While zip ties are also used in homes for storage and more, ongoing investigations suggest that the people carrying zip cuffs in the Capitol had more nefarious intentions.

Given that Shapiro’s tweet is still up from his verified account, we rate this claim as a “Correct Attribution.”

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.