During a Monday speech in the White House Rose Garden, President Joe Biden was attempting to justify his crackdown on guns in the United States.
In doing so, he repeated a blatant lie he previously told on the campaign trail.
“At the very beginning, the Second Amendment didn’t say, ‘You can own any gun you want, big as you want,'” Biden said. “You couldn’t buy a cannon when, in fact, the Second Amendment passed.”
BIDEN: “You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment passed.”
That is a lie. pic.twitter.com/5hfqz01c79
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) April 11, 2022
According to The Washington Post, this claim is completely untrue. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 most famously gives Congress the power to declare war, but it also gives them the power to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.”
The Post said these letters were “special waivers that allowed private individuals to act as pirates on behalf of the United States against countries engaged in war with it.”
First of all, that sounds absolutely legendary. Who wouldn’t want to be a pirate for the United States? But more importantly, it proves Biden’s claim wrong.
According to the Post, a “letter of marquee” gave a warship the right to cross into the territory of another country to seize another ship, and a “letter of reprisal” allowed Americans to bring the ship back to the U.S.
“Individuals who were given these waivers and owned warships obviously also obtained cannons for use in battle,” the Post reported.
Independence Institute research director and Second Amendment project director David Kopel ripped into Biden for this lie.
“Everything in that statement is wrong,” Kopel said. When the Second Amendment was passed in 1791, “there were no federal laws about the type of gun you could own, and no states limited the kind of gun you could own.”
Some states later began attempting to pass additional restrictions on weapons that could be concealed, but that did not happen until the early 1800s, Kopel said.
University of Pennsylvania constitutional law professor Kermit Roosevelt tried to give Biden the benefit of the doubt, but even he could not ignore the obvious flub.
“I think what he’s saying here is that the Second Amendment was never understood to guarantee everyone the right to own all types of weapons, which I believe is true,” Roosevelt said. “As phrased, it sounds like the Second Amendment itself limited ownership, which is not true.”
Biden told a similar lie during his campaign in 2020 as part of an interview with Wired magazine.
“From the very beginning you weren’t allowed to have certain weapons,” Biden said. “You weren’t allowed to own a cannon during the Revolutionary War as an individual.”
“At that time, there was no United States, just a bunch of very confused former colonies trying to cooperate, and often failing, to defeat the British military,” Baylor University director of military studies Julie Anne Sweet said.
“Any sort of gun regulations would have been at the local level, and therefore incredibly difficult and tedious to chase down. The new states were still writing new constitutions and probably did not take this matter into consideration.”
As usual, Biden did not learn from his mistake. Even by shifting the date from the 1770s and 80s to 1791, he did not make his lie any more accurate.
The Washington Post gave Biden’s claim on Monday four pinocchios, which was the most severe “false” rating it could receive.
“We have no idea where he conjured up this notion about a ban on cannon ownership in the early days of the Republic, but he needs to stop making this claim,” the outlet concluded.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.