The Washington Post fact-checked President Joe Biden’s recent claim about the Second Amendment and found that it is false.
What Biden said: The president made the comments last week during a press conference where he announced a strategy to prevent violent crime in the U.S. It includes strengthening background checks and a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, among other things.
At one point, Biden argued that the Secondment Amendment rights have historically been limited. In doing so, he proclaimed that the Second Amendment never allowed Americans to own cannons.
“And I might add: The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people who could own a gun and what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon,” Biden said.
Fact-check: The Washington Post cited Second Amendment experts and historical documents in giving the president “Four Pinocchios” for his claim. The publication’s fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted that Biden had made the same claim during his presidential campaign and that assertion was fact-checked as false as well.
“Everything in that statement is wrong … there were no federal laws about the type of gun you could own, and no states limited the kind of gun you could own,” said David Kopel, the research director and Second Amendment project director at the Independence Institute.
Kermit Roosevelt, a constitutional law professor at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Post that “[a]s phrased, it sounds like the Second Amendment itself limited ownership, which is not true.”
Roosevelt highlighted that if Biden was trying to say that “the Second Amendment was never understood to guarantee everyone the right to own all types of weapons” then that statement, according to him, is correct.
Kessler pointed to the so-called “Letters of Marque and Reprisal” that Congress granted to private citizens, allowing them to act as pirates on behalf of the U.S. against countries that America was in a war with.
“Individuals who were given these waivers and owned warships obviously also obtained cannons for use in battle,” Kessler wrote.
Worth noting: The Post said they consider this a serious mistake and not some “inconsequential flub.”
“Every U.S. president has a responsibility to get American history correct, especially when he’s using a supposed history lesson in service of a political objective. The president’s push for more gun restrictions is an important part of his political platform, so he undercuts his cause when he cites faux facts,” the fact-check reads.
“Moreover, Biden has already been fact-checked on this claim — and it’s been deemed false. 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,” it added.
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