Fact Check

Did Boebert Shoot Herself While Aiming at the Chinese Balloon?

An article claimed, "Republican Lauren Boebert shot herself in the foot while shooting at one of the Chinese spy balloons." But was that real news?

Published Feb. 7, 2023

U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) participates in a meeting on Jan. 31, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images) (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) participates in a meeting on Jan. 31, 2023 in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)
U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert shot herself in the foot while aiming at a Chinese spy balloon that transited U.S. airspace in early 2023.

On Feb. 4, 2023, OnlySky Media published an article with the headline, "Lauren Boebert shoots herself while shooting at the Chinese spy balloon." According to the story, the Republican U.S. representative from Colorado "shot herself in the foot" and was "expected to make a full recovery."

However, the article was filed under the publication's "Satire" section. In other words, the story about Boebert never happened.

The satirical story went like this:

The rifle Representative Boebert chose to fire was an Armalite -15 (AR-15). Boasting it is "America's gun" Boebert refused to pay attention when told that the weapon's maximum range is approximately 12,000 feet well below the height of the balloon. "I'm praying that Jesus will anoint these bullets and blow that balloon to kingdom come," she said.

Eyewitnesses report Boebert shot herself in the right foot while posing for a selfie. She was hoping to post it on Instagram, but instead, it earned her a trip to the hospital. Several onlookers thought at the time it was an odd choice for her to snap a pic with her left hand while holding an armed and ready AR-15 with her right.

In light of current events, the National Rifleman's Association (NRA) is intending to lobby Congress to make anti-aircraft canons available to the public. The organization believes that if the government won't protect America's skies, then everyday citizens must. Political pundits think a bill supporting the policy will easily pass the GOP-run House of Representatives.

OnlySky Media's website describes such fictional content as, "Exquisitely scorching satire from a secular, nonreligious perspective."

The fictional story referenced a suspected Chinese spy balloon that was shot down off the Atlantic coast on Feb. 4, days after it had traveled through Alaska, down to Canada, and then west to east across the U.S.

Meanwhile, a number of Republicans posted pictures of themselves acting as if they were thinking about shooting the balloon down themselves.

The balloon traveled at an altitude of 60,000 feet, which converts to around 11.3 miles.

The OnlySky Media article was not the only fictional piece of content about Boebert and the balloon. A popular tweet claimed that she had said, "The Chinese spy balloon was 60K feet high, which is only about one mile." However, again, that wasn't a real quote. It originated with an account called Captain Parody.

Since the discovery of the balloon, Boebert previously tweeted several times about it. In one post on Feb. 3, she claimed that the balloon "would never have made it over U.S. soil if Trump was president." As we previously reported, an official from the U.S. Department of Defense said on Feb. 4, the day after Boebert's tweet, that such a balloon had "transited the continental United States briefly at least three times" when Trump was in office, as well as at least once since U.S. President Joe Biden took over in January 2021.

Meanwhile, in another tweet, Boebert suggested that citizens — not military officials — first spotted the balloon, though no evidence proved that was the case. According to The Associated Press, U.S. government and military officials began tracking the object north of the Aleutian Islands on Jan. 28.

For background, here is why we sometimes write about satire/humor.


Boebert, Lauren. Twitter, https://twitter.com/laurenboebert.

Gosar, Paul. Twitter, https://twitter.com/RepGosar/status/1621557453006454784.

Hall, Andrew. "Lauren Boebert Shoots Herself While Shooting at the Chinese Spy Balloon." OnlySky Media, 4 Feb. 2023, http://onlysky.media/ahall/lauren-boebert-shoots-herself-while-shooting-at-the-chinese-spy-balloon/.

Lake, Kari. Twitter, https://twitter.com/KariLake/status/1621506285765099520.

Miller, Zeke, et al. "US Downs Chinese Balloon, Drawing a Threat from China." The Associated Press, 4 Feb. 2023, https://apnews.com/article/politics-united-states-government-china-antony-blinken-51e49202f2a0a50541cde059934c4cfb.

"Satire Archives." OnlySky Media, http://onlysky.media/category/comedy/satire-2/.

@TheFungi669. Twitter, https://twitter.com/TheFungi669/.

Vance, J. D. Twitter, https://twitter.com/JDVance1/status/1621622465096028160.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.

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