Stand up for the facts!

Our only agenda is to publish the truth so you can be an informed participant in democracy.
We need your help.

More Info

I would like to contribute

Sales associate Mike Conway, right, shows Paul Angulo a pistol at the Bullseye Sport gun shop in Riverside, Calif. (AP) Sales associate Mike Conway, right, shows Paul Angulo a pistol at the Bullseye Sport gun shop in Riverside, Calif. (AP)

Sales associate Mike Conway, right, shows Paul Angulo a pistol at the Bullseye Sport gun shop in Riverside, Calif. (AP)

By Ayden Norcross October 24, 2023

Fact-checking Alex Mooney on whether Jim Justice supports banning sporting rifles?

If Your Time is short

  • Mooney’s statement cherry picks and exaggerates a comment Justice made in a 2022 briefing. In the briefing, Justice expressed doubts that 18-year-olds should be able to buy assault weapons, suggesting the minimum age should be raised to 21.

  • This has not become law during his tenure, and even if it had, Mooney’s phrasing makes Justice’s statement sound more far-reaching than it is. "Sporting rifle" is a broader category than "assault weapon."

  • Justice signed a bill expanding concealed-carry rights on the state’s college campuses, and his campaign website says he is against "more gun control and confiscation."

Rep. Alex Mooney, R-W.Va., is challenging Gov. Jim Justice for the Republican nomination for a U.S. Senate seat in 2024. Mooney is criticizing the governor by posting a "Phony Jim Justice" website.

Mooney’s website makes a number of claims, one of which is that Justice "supports banning sporting rifles for law-abiding citizens."

We reached out to both candidates’ offices. Justice’s campaign did not respond to inquiries, but Mooney’s campaign did.

Brittany Yanick, a spokesperson for Mooney’s campaign, cited statements Justice made during a briefing on May 31, 2022, about increasing the minimum age to buy an assault weapon to 21.

In the briefing Justice said, "We absolutely know without any question, to me, at least, that why in the world is an 18-year-old buying an assault weapon? A 21-year-old, I’d welcome it."

Whatever Justice’s personal feelings on this question are, he did not sign such a bill into law.

Meanwhile, Justice also said in the briefing that he didn’t support an assault weapons ban and that citizens may need assault weapons to protect their homes.

In addition, Mooney’s site used the term "sporting rifle," which is a broader term than the actual phrase Justice used — "assault weapon" — and which would be even more objectionable to gun-rights advocates.

Subsequently, in March 2023, Justice did sign into law a bill that eased gun laws. It allows West Virginians who already have a concealed-carry permit to carry concealed weapons on the state’s college campuses beginning July 1, 2024.

Meanwhile, Justice’s campaign website says: "Governor Justice believes it is a God-given right that West Virginians can protect themselves. … More gun control and confiscation are not the answers. In the Senate, Jim Justice will fight to preserve our rights and work to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill. We need more resources for law enforcement, mental health services, and prisons to ensure irredeemable, violent criminals stay behind bars."

Our ruling

Mooney said Justice "supports banning sporting rifles for law-abiding citizens."

This statement is misleading, cherry-picking and exaggerating a comment Justice made in a 2022 briefing. In the briefing, Justice expressed doubts that 18-year-olds should be able to buy assault weapons, suggesting the minimum age should be raised to 21.

This has not become law during his tenure, and even if it had, Mooney’s phrasing makes Justice’s statement sound more far-reaching than it is. "Sporting rifle" is a broader category than "assault weapon."

In reality, Justice signed a bill expanding concealed-carry rights on the state’s college campuses, and his campaign website says he is against "more gun control and confiscation."

We rate the statement False.

Our Sources

Alex Mooney, "Phony Jim Justice" campaign website," accessed Aug. 21, 2023.

YouTube, "Gov. Justice holds briefing on COVID-19 response," May 31, 2022

Office of the Governor, "Gov. Justice signs bill to strengthen 2nd Amendment protections in West Virginia," March 1, 2023

Jim Justice, campaign website issues section on guns, accessed Oct. 21, 2023

WV Metro News,  "On guns, Governor Justice focuses on porn, profanity, social media, video games, mental health", May 31, 2022

Bluefield Daily Telegraph, "West Virginia Republican Assembly endorses Mooney for U.S. Senate", Sept. 26 2023

Associated Press, "West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice signs campus carry gun bill", March 1, 2023

Email interview with Brittany Yanick, spokesperson for Alex Mooney’s campaign, Sept. 25, 2023

Browse the Truth-O-Meter

More by Ayden Norcross

Fact-checking Alex Mooney on whether Jim Justice supports banning sporting rifles?

Support independent fact-checking.
Become a member!

In a world of wild talk and fake news, help us stand up for the facts.

Sign me up