Fact Check

Did Former Defense Secretary Jim Mattis Criticize 'Pantyhose-Wearing' Politicians for Gun Restrictions?

A widespread meme attributes some colorful criticisms of pro-gun-control lawmakers to the legendary retired Marine Corps general.

Published Jan. 17, 2019

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Jim Mattis once criticized "pantyhose-wearing" politicians for imposing restrictions on gun use.

Jim Mattis became something of a hero among supporters of Donald Trump when he accepted the newly inaugurated president's appointment as secretary of defense in January 2017. (That was before he suddenly became the focus of Trump's ire in December 2018, when he resigned from his post shortly after the president announced his intention to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria.)

One quotation attributed to Mattis burnished the retired Marine Corps general's reputation in right-leaning, social media circles as a grizzled, no-nonsense conservative icon.

What pisses me off is my men defend freedom all over the world with a gun. Yet when they come home some pantyhose-wearing politician wants to make them defenseless against thousands of armed jihadi terrorists.

In reality, it's not clear that Mattis ever made those remarks, but he probably never did.

The meme has appeared intermittently online since shortly after Mattis took office. The earliest instance we could find was from May 2017, when it was posted by the conservative Facebook page "Mad World News," where it reappeared in June and September 2017.

We could find no corroborating evidence of Mattis ever having said or written those words, despite checking online news archives dating back several decades.

"Mad World News" is a Facebook page and website with a history of posting provocative and occasionally inflammatory memes. It has a track record of publishing misleading and inaccurate stories, particularly about Muslims, some of which we have examined previously.

Although we can't definitively say one way or another, the absence of any independent corroboration for the purported quotation, or even a cited source or date in the meme, along with the previous record of "Mad World News," strongly suggest that the quotation is fabricated.


Landler, Mark et al.   "Trump Withdraws U.S. Forces from Syria, Declaring 'We Have Won Against ISIS.'"    The New York Times.   19 December 2018.

Borger, Julian.   "Defense Secretary James Mattis Resigns and Points to Differences With Trump."     The Guardian.   21 December 2018.

Dan Mac Guill is a former writer for Snopes.