President Biden’s tenure in the White House has been marked with a consistent tone surrounding the Second Amendment and firearms, but on several occasions, the president has shown that he may not know the real issue at hand as he repeatedly pushes for a ban on “assault weapons.”
Biden’s latest remarks taking aim at strong supporters of the Second Amendment and certain firearms came last week during a speech at the National Action Network’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast in Washington, where he appeared to mock his conservative colleagues.
“I love my right-wing friends who talk about the tree of liberty is water of the blood of patriots,” he said. “If you need to work about taking on the federal government, you need some F-15s. You don’t need an AR-15.”
The quote Biden refers to dates back to Thomas Jefferson, who wrote in a letter, “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.” Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence and America’s third president.
President Biden’s tenure in the White House has been marked by a consistent tone surrounding the Second Amendment and firearms in America. (Kevin Dietsch, Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
Biden has previously said gun-rights advocates need a much bigger arsenal of weapons to take on the federal government. In July 2021, he said: “You need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons” during a White House speech to outline his plan to combat gun violence.
In the same speech, he also falsely claimed there have always been limits on the Second Amendment.
“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,” he said. “The point is that there has always been the ability to limit – rationally limit – the type of weapon that can be owned and who can own it.”
These claims have been analyzed and found to be false when Biden has made them repeatedly over the past few years.
Federal gun regulation didn’t come until 1934, decades after the Second Amendment was introduced, according to Politifact.
Last November, following the 2022 midterm elections, Biden said the “idea we still allow semi-automatic weapons to be purchased is sick” and insisted that the purchasing of certain firearms “has no socially redeeming value.”
AR-15 rounds displayed at the offices of Scott Jackson, owner of Bay Area Firearms Instruction in Burlingame, California, on Sept. 22, 2016. (Michael Macor/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images)
Semi-automatic guns, including handguns and rifles, fire one bullet for each pull of the trigger.
Last August, during a campaign-style event in Pennsylvania, Biden also offered a variety of gun-related gaffes to promote his “Safer America” agenda, which is focused on deterring crime, helping law enforcement, and toughening up gun laws while expanding background checks.
During the speech, Biden made a claim about the speed of AR-15 bullets. “Do you realize the bullet out of an AR-15 travels five times as rapidly as a bullet shot out of any other gun?” Biden asked rhetorically during his speech.
It is unclear what the president was referencing, but AR-15s generally do not shoot the fastest bullets.
President Biden speaks at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, on Aug. 30, 2022. (Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images)
A June study by hunting gear retailer Field and Stream looked at the fastest rifle cartridges – and AR-15 rounds did not make their list. Field & Stream listed .220 Swift, .257 Weatherby Magnum and .30/378 Weatherby as the fastest rounds, along with 224 Clark and .22 Eargesplitten Loudenboomer.
The .220 Swift, according to Outdoor Life magazine, is known as the “fastest commercial rifle cartridge” in the world and releases a 48-grain bullet at 4,100 feet per second. The .220 is not listed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) on its practical list as one of the cartridges that could be used in an AR-15.
The .223 and 5.56 – two popular, high-speed AR-15 rounds – move around 2,700 to 3,100 feet per second.
During the same Pennsylvania speech, in which Biden ridiculed Second Amendment supporters and sarcastically called them “brave” for believing guns are a tool for self-defense, Biden also claimed that “AR-15s just rip the body apart,” which is also inaccurate. Damage from a gunshot depends on the type of bullets used.
“For those brave right-wing Americans who say it’s all about keeping America independent and safe, if you want to fight against the country, you need an F-15,” Biden said mockingly at the time. “You need something more than a gun.”
Biden’s remarks related to certain firearms, as well as the right Americans have to own them, are not confined only to his presidency, however. Before taking office – during a campaign stop in Iowa in September 2019 – Biden said it is “absolutely mindless” that “we don’t have elimination of assault-type weapons and magazines that can hold multiple bullets in them.”
AR-15 rifles are displayed for sale at the Guntoberfest gun show in Oaks, Pennsylvania, Oct. 6, 2017. (Reuters/Joshua Roberts)
Biden’s remarks at the time seemingly dismissed the fact that a majority of modern-day firearms have magazines that hold more than one bullet in them, including the AR-15, which holds 30 rounds in a standard magazine.
Since taking office, Biden has urged Congress to pass measures related to gun control.
Last June, after it was passed by both the Democrat-controlled House and Senate, Biden signed into law the most significant gun control bill in nearly 30 years.
Spearheaded by Sens. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and John Cornyn, R-Texas, the measure came in the wake of recent mass shootings at the time and provides funding for states to create programs, often called red flag laws, that could keep weapons away from people who are a danger to themselves or others.
In addition, the measure enhances background checks for gun buyers under 21, adds penalties for some gun criminals and provides funding for a variety of health and mental health-related programs. It also addresses closing the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” which is a gap in federal law that means spousal domestic abusers can have gun rights taken away but not unmarried ones.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano and Jessica Chasmar, as well as Haris Alic and Andrea Vacchiano, contributed to this article.
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