Fact Check

James Earl Jones on Gun Control

Rumor: Actor James Earl Jones said that citizens need to carry guns to prevent the criminals from winning.

Published Feb 24, 2015

Claim:   Actor James Earl Jones said that citizens of the United States need to carry guns because the world is a violent place.


Example:   [Collected via email, February 2015]

I've seen this picture beginning to circulate on facebook and wondered if the quote is accurately attributed to James Earl Jones?

Origins:   A quote about gun ownership widely attributed to actor James Earl Jones has been circulating the Internet for several years:

"The world is filled with violence. Because criminals carry guns, we decent law-abiding citizens should also have guns. Otherwise, they will win and the decent people will lose."

It appears that the quote was first published on the internet by self-described "gun nut" Eric S. Raymond as part of a list created in 1997 entitled "Quotes on the Right to Bear Arms." While Raymond provided source information for several of the quotes included in his list, the remark attributed to James Earl Jones did not include any background information.

Dozens of other websites, including IMDB, Brainy Quote, CeleBuzz, and Quotes.net, have also listed James Earl Jones as the author of the quote; but none of these publications has been able to provide information about when it was first recorded.

While it is impossible to verify that this quote has been correctly attributed to Jones without proper source information, we can note that the actor has spoken about his beliefs on gun control in the past. In his 2004 autobiography Voices and Silences, Jones wrote that although he is a member of the National Rifle Association (NRA), he is not a politically active part of the group:

"I am a member of the National Rifle Association, but not a political member. I just throw the political mail from the NRA into the trash. Charlton Heston campaigns on behalf of the NRA. He says, "Here I stand." When it comes to the right wing politics of the NRA, I don't get into that. I just believe in my right to have a gun in my house. Ceci [wife Cecilia Hart], on the other hand, is a member of the anti-gun lobby, so we pretty much cancel each other out."

Last updated: 24 February 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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