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Wisconsin Watch partners with Gigafact to produce fact briefs — bite-sized fact checks of trending claims. Read our methodology to learn how we check claims.


Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson said at a Milwaukee Rotary Club event on Oct. 4, “To call what happened on Jan. 6 an ‘armed insurrection,’ I just think it’s inaccurate.” Johnson cited the fact that no guns were seized by police that day. 

A spokesperson told NBC News that Johnson believes participants in the Jan. 6, 2021 insurrection received unfair scrutiny compared to those in the 2020 protests after the killing of George Floyd, including use of weapons.

Johnson has made similar comments in the past. But as NPR noted in 2021, some participants were charged with carrying weapons, including “stun guns, pepper spray, baseball bats and flagpoles wielded as clubs.” 

And in July, as the Jan. 6 House hearings and prosecutions progressed, the Washington Post reported on multiple accounts of people carrying guns on the Capitol grounds that day, including four who were criminally charged.


NBC News: Sen. Johnson: Calling Jan. 6 an ‘armed insurrection’ is not accurate

The Independent: Senator Ron Johnson claims January 6 wasn’t ‘armed insurrection’ but did ‘teach us how you can use a flag pole’

NPR: Yes, Capitol rioters were armed. here are the weapons prosecutors say they used

Wisconsin Public Radio: From the insurrection to the election, Ron Johnson courts controversy as he weighs third term

NBC News: Sen. Ron Johnson acknowledges texting with Trump attorney on Jan 6

Washington Post: Evidence of firearms in Jan. 6 crowd grows as arrests and trials mount

Jacob Alabab-Moser joined as Wisconsin Watch’s fact checker in September 2022, as part of the effort by The Gigafact Project in partnership with different state-level news outlets to combat misinformation in the 2022 midterm elections. Jacob has several years of experience as a fact checker and research assistant at a variety of organizations, including at The Gigafact Project. He holds a BA from Brown University and is pursuing a MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science.