President Biden Repeats False Claim about the Second Amendment

President Joe Biden on Wednesday repeated a claim about the Second Amendment that some of us have repeatedly challenged as untrue.  In asserting that “the Second Amendment is not absolute,” President Biden repeated his claim that certain weapons were prohibited at the time that the Second Amendment was ratified. That is simply untrue.

The statement that the Second Amendment is not absolute is certainly true. There are laws that can be crafted within the confines set out under controlling Supreme Court precedent. However, as discussed in a column, President Biden continues to ignore those constitutional limitations in blaming the gun lobby and political opponents for these deaths.

President Biden also has repeated his claim that certain weapons were banned at the time of the ratification of the Second Amendment.

Previously, Biden declared:

“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.”

This week, President Biden repeated a false claim that many of us have corrected in the past.

When he was announcing new rules for so-called “ghost guns” and other measures, President Biden renewed his false claim that early Americans could not buy a cannon.

“By the way — it’s going to sound bizarre — I support the Second Amendment. But from the very beginning the Second Amendment didn’t say you could own any gun you want, as big as you want. You couldn’t buy a cannon, when in fact the Second Amendment passed.”

It does sound bizarre because it is factually and legally untrue. I have received calls from media for years about this claim and it does not improve by repetition. Even the Washington Post has declared Biden’s understanding of the Second Amendment to be false.

Yet, this week, President Biden remained undeterred and uninformed: “The Second Amendment is not absolute. When it was passed you couldn’t own a cannon, you couldn’t own certain kinds of weapons. There’s just always been limitations.”

Once again, there were no federal laws barring cannon ownership when the Second Amendment was enacted. Gun laws remained local matters and I do not know of any bans on cannons or other gun types until much later in our history.  Early local laws did control concealed weapons, though concealed cannons were not part of those ordinances.

Indeed, the Constitution itself supports private cannon ownership in the case of privateers.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 allows Congress to “grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.”  That allowed private parties to privateer on the high seas with . . . cannons. (Recently some members of Congress wanted to issues such letters of Marque again to enlist privateers in the fight against Russia).

As with the failure to acknowledge the limitations on the range of legislative options due to Second Amendment protections, President Biden is undermining efforts to reach common ground with this repeated false claim. If we are going to reach what the President calls “commonsense” responses to this massacre, we must start from a common understanding of the constitutional and historical foundations for such reforms.

199 thoughts on “President Biden Repeats False Claim about the Second Amendment”

  1. Old Joe had no problem swimming naked in front of female secret service staff while VP showing off his nasty old and wrinkled, but erect “big cannon.” He even showed his “cannon ” to his 11 year old daughter Ashley in the shower. Nasty! No wonder she’s a mental drug addict and basket case. I would be too! Ban cannons now!!! Or at least those possessed by a Biden.

  2. Dear Employees:
    As the CEO of this organization, I have resigned myself to The fact that Joe Biden is our President and that our Taxes and government fees will increase in a BIG way. To Compensate for these increases, our prices would have to Increase by about 10%. But, since we cannot increase our Prices right now due to the dismal state of the economy, we will have to lay off sixty of our employees instead. This has REALLY been bothering me since I believe we are family here and I didn’t know how to choose who would have to go. So, this is what I did. I walked through our parking lots and found Sixty ‘Biden/Harris’ bumper stickers on our employees’ cars and have decided these folks will be the ones to let go. I can’t think of a more fair way to approach this problem. They voted For change… So I gave it to them.

    I will see the rest of you at the annual company picnic.”

  3. The Founding Fathers could not have envisioned nuclear weapons, either.

    1. It has been repeated many times in history but the 1st thing a communist leader does is disarm the general public.

  4. People have been making me miserable my entire life, so why should I care if they are ever made miserable by World War 3?

  5. Back in the 1960s there was a conference of Japanese WW2 veterans and US veterans of the war in the pacific. During the conference the Americans finally asked the Japanese how far they thought they could go in the Pacific. They said they thought that they could take the Hawaiian Islands, but when it came to North America, even if they defeated the US military they could never control a civilian population that was that well armed.

    1. “A rifle behind every blade of grass.” That’s how Japanese generals characterized our potential resistance.

    1. Mespo, do you really think that when George Washington was president there was a law that said you couldn’t own a canon? I can’t believe people back then even thought of owning a canon.

      1. Oh lots of people and towns and cities owned cannon back then. Some even rented cannon-laden ships to the federales. Madison knew Arms technology would change hence the broader term.

      2. Bob:

        Mohammad Ali’s born name was Cassius Clay. He was named after a white Kentuckian, who was an abolitionist when it was rather unpopular. A mob arrived at his printing press, ready to burn it down, preferably with him inside. Cassius Clay had his personal canon pointed at the door, and said, “Who’s first.” He persevered. Unfortunately, as so much of our history is lost, the fighting phenom thought he had been named after a white slave owner, so he changed his name to Mohammad Ali, in honor of a prolific slaver, of the religion that enslaved 8 million Africans, castrating all the men.

        Actually, yes, people in olden times can and did own their own canon.

        1. As I recall, individuals owned cannons in frontier settlements also for the purpose of defending themselves from massed Indian attacks. Some were cannons rented by Gen. George Washington from civilians for use by the Continental army in the Revolutionary War.

        2. Mostly accurate, but it seems he did know why he was named after Clay and still changed his name. It seems to be necessary when one converts to Islam. My colleague’s late son, Peter Abdul-Rahman Kassig, changed his while interned in an ISSIS prison before being killed.

  6. Fishwings says:

    “So Turley feels now, he has to fact-check what the President said, Turley had no concerns between January 20 2017 and January 20 2021.”

    That’s not accurate. Turley DID call out Trump’s lies. Here is but one example:

    It’s true that Turley does not say it enough, but he knows that Trump is a liar. He’s known it for a long time. So did everyone until Trump became the Republican nominee. Then the Trumpists had to lie, and if you stop lying, you are dead to them, e.g., KellyAnne Conway.

  7. In response to my pointing out the headline:

    “Trump says Kellyanne Conway can ‘go back to her crazy husband’ after she concedes he lost the election”

    Oky1 had this to say:

    “Kellyanne, goodbye you tone deaf loser with a DC Pedo loving Hubby. Sick SOB’s all over the place, how do we keep those Demonic Satin Church worshipping stay any way close to power?”

    Does Oky1 speak for all you Trumpists about KellyAnne?

  8. Neil Gold asks Turley:

    “You may not choose sides, but one side has chosen you as their avatar. The other side rejects you completely. I wonder why that is.”

    You must be the new guy in town. Just to bring you up to speed. Turley IS a NeverTrumper. As far back as ten years ago, Turley unmercifully dissed Trump by calling him a “carnival snake charmer,” in other words, a conman. He also said that Trump was an “absurd television reality star” whose proposed participation as a moderator in a presidential debate would have been “obscene”! It is, therefore, unmistakable and undeniable what Turley thinks of Trump’s character.

    Nowadays, Turley works for Fox News. He knows what is expected of him without his being told in so many words. He thus finds fault where he can with the Democrats and denigrates the media and the cable competition of his employer. However, he will not embrace the rhetoric of the Trumpists at Fox, e.g., Hannity, Carlson, Ingraham or Levin. For instance, he has never called the Mueller investigation a “witch-hunt,” nor has he ever uttered the words, “fake news.” He is an academic, after all, not a shock jock.

    To his credit, Turley rightly condemns the “age of age” (as he calls it) in the MSM, BUT he ignores the rage of his Fox Primetime colleagues, for he will not bite the hand that feeds him. I generally agree with his legal opinions while condemning his hypocrisy.

    1. “Just to bring you up to speed. Turley IS a NeverTrumper. “

      Neil, no matter what side of the aisle you come from, you can’t trust Jeff. The truth of any statement made by Jeff is like flipping a coin.

      Turley cannot be a Never Trumper because he is a Democrat, or, at least, he was not that long ago.

      Years ago , one could liken Trump to a “carnival snake charmer,” because that statement can pertain to a reality show host, which Trump was. Jeff has difficulty understanding words and their meaning. David Copperfield, the great magician, is also a “carnival snake charmer” of sorts.

      Most people would believe that David Copperfield would be absurd as a moderator in a Presidential debate. Like Trump or not, left or right, all we have to do is compare the Trump years to what we are seeing today. Your opinion is your choice.

      “Turley works for Fox News.”

      Let’s call him a commentator for Fox News because that is not his primary place of work. We don’t even know for sure if they pay him or how. What Jeff is alluding to was destroyed by Chris Wallace when he left Fox News. He said that Fox News never interfered with his content. The terms Turley uses to describe people and events are his own. Jeff likes to pretend those words have context as to what Turley says. One must understand that Jeff lacks knowledge and is somewhat of a nutcase. To Jeff everyone is a hypocrite. Sometimes I wonder if he knows what the word means or has looked at himself in the mirror.

      Though people assume I am on the right (because it is the antonym of the political word left), I am apolitical, disliking both parties. If one needs to classify me, they can do so by calling me a Classical Liberal in the likes of Milton Friedman or Hayek. That makes things strange because Turley is a Democrat and theoretically to the left of center. I am to the right of it. However, I support Turley because he is consistent and understands civil liberties. Those here on the left insult Turley all the time even though Turley is trying to protect their rights, as well as my own. I find that strange.

      It would be best for the Jeffs of the world to start using whatever intellect they have. Their responses on this blog amount to a food fight in a kindergarten class.

    2. Carlson has never been a Trump supporter. Carlson called out Trump’s flaws whenever and as often as he saw them. He’s not beholden to anyone. Nor is Professor Turley. Which is why both should be respected.

      1. Like Turley, Carlson new the true measure of the man long before he ran for president:

        “Tucker Carlson called Trump ‘the single most repulsive person on the planet’ and a ‘wacko’ in 1999”

        I have repeatedly said that I respect Turley’s legal opinions by and large. However, I don’t respect his selling out to Fox News. He correctly condemns the advocacy journalism in the MSM but ignores it at Fox News, Newsmax and OAN.

        When Turley abandons Fox and once again becomes an objective and impartial commentator, he will enjoy my full respect!

    1. Mespo,

      I have a firm offer to any Trumpist:

      I’ll concede that Biden is mentally impaired IF AND ONLY IF you will concede that Trump is an inveterate liar.

      Can we shake on it?

      1. “I’ll concede that Biden is mentally impaired IF AND ONLY IF you will concede that Trump is an inveterate liar.

        Can we shake on it?”
        I’ll concede everyone is an inveterate liar. The difference is that some liars love their country, traditions and culture and some are Dimocrats. So put her there!

        1. Mespo,

          Are you chummy with Turley? When you chat with him, what is his reaction when you refer to Democrats as “Dimocrats?” Or do you not engage in such uncivil name-calling because he doesn’t?

          1. JS:
            On rare occasion, I do but, bottom line is Turley’s words are his own. I’m more willing to call out stupid for what it is. Turley’s the better diplomat and advocate. It’s a difference in temperament. I used to call Republicans “Republicons.” They deserved that, too.

  9. Rose says:

    “Perhaps a lie told often enough will become the accepted story.”

    No “perhaps”!

    For example, the Big Lie that the election was stolen has become dogma for Trumpists. Even someone as utterly loyal as KellyAnne Conway was trashed by Trump for daring to speak the truth:

    “Trump says Kellyanne Conway can ‘go back to her crazy husband’ after she concedes he lost the election”

    Trumpists MUST repeat the lie. It is mind-control. There is not one lying Trumpist on this blog who will DARE say that the election was NOT stolen.

      1. Not a chance. Obviously you never read my post where I indicated that I was D’Souza’s classmate at Dartmouth. I knew him. He was a liar then.

        1. This information is not from D’Souza so how you feel about him shouldn’t have any impact. You should watch 2000 Mules because then you would have the chance to intellectually destroy those that believe in it. You won’t watch because you know you can’t. Wanna bet?

        2. He may be a liar, but the video evidence isn’t. I found your rhetoric interesting until this comment. I also notice that you are one of the most prolific commenters, telling me you are trying REAL hard.

          1. BMan:

            Considering that one can count on one hand the number of NeverTrumpers on this blog, is it any wonder we have to try harder?

            Anyone who knew D’Souza at Dartmouth will tell you that he was no less controversial then as now. I recall one incident in which we attended the same event. Later, he wrote his report of that event in the Dartmouth Review newspaper. It was false and deliberately provocative. I have never forgot it.

            I have seen him commenting on Fox, and he has not changed. I will not waste my money supporting his false narratives. The fact that Turley has not mentioned the movie is more evidence that it is worthless.

        3. JS:

          I’m not a D’Souza fan after his felony conviction and obvious self-aggrandizement but the evidence he presents is hard to discount.

          1. His felony conviction proved that D’Souza didn’t understand the law. He could have given far more money in a different fashion to do the same thing, and it would have been legal. We see similar cases but no one was treated as harshly demonstrating political motivations.

            His jail term was productive. His mates were thieves, and from them he got the idea why should Hillary rob a bank when she could rob the United States, which led to his book Stealing America. I won’t delve into his personality, but politically he is reasonably on target.

            2000 Mules was his production, but the facts came from others. Many people who don’t like D’Souza or Trump find them too much in their face, but who cares? We need these types of persons to run a country and expose corruption. Years past, many of these people who placed a check on government were Democrats.

            I don’t think either party serves us well, and that is why we have people like D’Souza on all sides. We also have a free press which seems to fail in its duties. I don’t know why you think D’Souza deserved jail time, but that is your opinion.

  10. You helped Biden’s overall claim that “the 2nd Amendment is not absolute” with your example of laws against concealed carry at the time the nation was getting started. This puts limits on when and where firearms can be “beared”.

    The preamble does give a hint of context to gun rights in 1791 in reference to “a well-regulated militia”. The Militia Captain had authority over distribution of firearms from an armory. Those boys judged too immature, and men judged too inebriated most of the time, and those with mental health issues or senile dementia could be disarmed by the Captain. This gives a picture of loose supervision, and leadership responsibility for disciplined used of firearms.

    That’s built into our Constitution. Why don’t more Americans perceive the problem of these school shootings as unsupervised young men having too easy access to lethal weapons. To start in driving a motor vehicle, some adult supervision is required, but not for a military-style long-gun designed for high-probability bleed-out (lethality)?

    A responsible adult over 30 would need to co-sign a supervisory-liability agreement at time of purchase, and the liability remain in effect until the gun owner reaches age 30. The liability means that the supervisor can be both sued and held criminally negligent in the case where the gun is used criminally.

    A decentralized system of supervision is much stronger than a centralized, bureaucratic one, and should be satisfactory to those who see gun possession as the untimate check on tyrranical government.

    1. Why don’t more Americans perceive the problem of these school shootings as unsupervised young men having too easy access to lethal weapons.

      Because they are adults. Citizens with all the privileges and immunity protected by the constitution. You want to change the age of majority to 25? Have a go at it.

      Freedom is not free.

  11. Chicago has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation, yet more people get shot every weekend than in TX.

    In 2019, Gov Abbott passed 17 bills to tighten up school security, and allocated hundreds of millions of dollars. YET, the armed school resource officer was not on the Robb Elementary School campus. The shooter crashed his car, and shot at a couple of people in front of the school. Then he shot at the school. 12 minutes later, he continued on, unmolested, as he climbed over the low chain link fence. He entered an unlocked back door. Walked down a couple of hallways, and entered the wide open doors of the 4th grade classroom. The steel store functioned just fine when he locked himself inside with all those little lambs, whom he then slaughtered, along with their two teachers.

    We can legislate school safety and allocate resources, but the school still has to lock the door.

    After all that money and effort, this little rural school had a low fence, unlocked doors, and was totally unprepared for the evil that walked inside.

    We can pass stricter gun laws, but that hasn’t helped Chicago. Surprisingly, criminals do not follow the law.

    We can ban semi-automatic rifles with pistol grips, but rifles with stocks fire just fine.

    A background check can’t flag anything if there’s no mental health record in the NICS database.

    The school district monitored social media, yet the maniac posted he would shoot up an elementary school and had shot his grandmother, yet it appears the school was not locked down.

    If you take away the constitutional right to bear arms from 18 year olds, then you can’t expect them to join the military and go to war for you. I actually think there should be one age of majority for everything – joining the military, getting married, voting, buying a drink, or renting a car.

    We can call each other names, and we’ll have made no progress 10 years from now. This is because Columbine created the infamous personal of the mass shooter. This appeals to the disturbed sociopath. They want to be feared. They think wearing a black trench coat, or body armor will make them feared and respected. If they get killed or commit suicide, they see it as a blaze of glory. Our nation needs to keep emphasizing that this is a cowardly, shameful act. Do not keep naming them, making them infamous. Deride them. Make this act so shameful, embarrassing, and cowardly that maybe, just maybe, sociopaths will stop repeating Columbine. Maybe nothing will work, however. After all, the Palestinian terrorists have so targeted Israeli children that the military has to guard their fortress-like schools. They have walls too high to throw a bomb over, and strong enough to absorb a speeding van.

    Security experts have penned articles in despair that all these years after Columbine, schools are not secure. They lack metal detectors, locked entries with video surveillance that can be remotely buzzed open, better fencing, armed security (police or military) who are PRESENT at all campuses, shields or bullet resistant glass windows, and all the other measures that have been recommended. Rural schools today have nowhere near the security that schools in more expensive neighborhoods do. It would be so easy to do this at so many schools, especially in small towns. And so it will keep happening.

    Why do politicians, actors, rock stars, the county registrar’s office, banks, jewelry stores, and wealthy people have better security than our nation’s children?

    Why is there so much pushback against securing schools? Why is the rhetoric that cops in schools make kids feel unsafe? What would make them unsafe would be a gunman locking himself in their classroom while cops speed there from a distance.

    Now, there are many who think, why aren’t guns banned in America, especially every time there is a mass shooting? It’s because it is a constitutional right, that cannot be waived away without amending the constitution. It’s because there are millions of law abiding gun owners, and you would no sooner disarm them than you would ban cars because of the Waukesha disaster where a man purposefully mowed down a parade. Because people use guns in self defense lawfully. Because Ukraine showed the desperation of a defenseless public, lining up at post offices to get their first gun to defend their country from invading Russians. Because if you don’t think the US government could turn tyrannical, you haven’t been paying attention to the 3 letter agencies targeting conservatives, or charging young children with crimes for not calling another student the plural “they.”

    No one with a heart wants kids hurt, or guns in the hands of mass murderers. There is just disagreement about how to protect schools. I’m a parent. I think schools are currently unable to defend the students against the predators who target them. Out here, there’s talk again of parents wanting to organize some sort of guard duty, but the state and county keeps refusing. Every day, the die is cast.

    If the armed resource officer had been there, those kids might be alive. If the school had a better fence, the kids might be alive. If the school had locked all external doors, those kids might be alive. If the classroom doors were locked, those kids might be alive. If a teacher had a concealed carry and was competent to use it, those kids might be alive. The what ifs must be torment to the grieving.

    1. Karen, every Monday morning you can get the body count in Chicago. Nobody cares.

  12. Without Roe, Miscarriage Could Mean Prison

    According to the National Advocates for Pregnant Women, between 2006 and 2020 more than 1,300 women were arrested, detained, or otherwise physically deprived of liberty for reasons related to a pregnancy.

    One study of more than 400 arrests or other “forced interventions” by the state on pregnant women found that more than half the women were Black, and about 7 in 10 were poor enough to qualify for a public defender. There was also wide geographic disparity. Just 10 states accounted for more than two-thirds of the cases, and nearly 8 in 10 came out of the South or Midwest. South Carolina alone represented 23 percent of the cases and, incredibly, 7 percent originated from a single South Carolina hospital.

    At least 38 states currently have laws granting legal protections to fetuses. In 29, those protections kick in shortly after fertilization. But under Roe and subsequent cases, harm that befalls the fetus during a legal abortion is exempted. But if Roe falls and states make abortion illegal, those exceptions will no longer apply. In states that put personhood at fertilization, any pregnancy that doesn’t result in a live birth could be subject to scrutiny and possible prosecution.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about one-quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, and about 1 in 3 women will experience one. Under a legal regime in which medical abortion is illegal, some women will inevitably try to end their pregnancies themselves. They may be targets of prosecution. But because of that, a larger percentage of women who involuntarily miscarry will likely be suspected and targeted, too.

    Edited From:

    1. Do you know why Mississippi voters twice voted down a Personhood Amendment? After years of sober debate around kitchen tables, hair salons, soccer games and churches the concern that proponents of personhood could not assuage was miscarriage, and the potential for legal suspicion visited upon certain women who miscarry. I was shocked that the lawyer arguing for Jackson Women’s Health in front of the Supreme Court did not go there. You don’t know what you’ve got until it’s taken away.

  13. There has been ample opportunity for those who are outraged about gun violence on this blog to show their concern for the black on black death in our nation. They should be outraged by this violence but they are not. Blacks are killed by other blacks in rampages every day. These killings barely make the headlines. Children are killed in the crossfire. Some tragedies are more easily used for political purposes. Those who do so are not doing it out of compassion but are rather doing it for self and party promotion. How low can they go.

    1. Blog Stooge, tell us what Republicans are doing about Black on Black violence.

      If they can’t admit guns are a problem, then Republicans are useless. And if their policies are a ‘No Sale’ to urban voters, Republicans don’t even factor.

      1. If you bothered to educate yourself you would note legal guns weren’t the problem. Take NYC. It hit its highest murder rate. A Republican became mayor and over his 8 years the murder rate fell to almost one-quarter of what it was when he took office. He didn’t get rid of guns. He utilized policies that worked. Democrats took control and the murder rate climbed.

        Blame Democrats. Blame yourself.

        1. Blog Stooge, how come you can’t answer as ‘Thinkthrough’??

          Murder rates fell all over the country in the mid to late 90’s. Two factors accounted for that: 1) Abortion 2) The 1994 Crime Bill.

          Roe was passed in 1973. 20 years latter there was a steep drop-off in juvenile violence.

          The 1994 Crime Bill made sure that violent gangsters were locked up.

          1. “how come you can’t answer as ‘Thinkthrough’??”

            Because I am not Thinkthrough.

            Those two things may have had a partial effect, but for a Republic Mayor to reduce the homicide rate to almost one-quarter seems a stretch. Then when Republican Adminstrations came to an end the homicide rate went up despite the crime bill and abortion. Can you explain that?

            How come we didn’t see similar reductions in the Democrat cities such as Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore?

            If you want to insert a national reason, then you have to insert that reason everywhere.

            You failed

            Blame Democrats. Blame yourself.

      2. Anonymous, you ask what are the Republicans doing concerning black live. Why don’t we start with the fact that Republican Attorney Generals require bail for gun offenders and they don’t let the gun offenders back onto the street to repeat their crimes. What party wants to institute a no cash bail policy. People are upset over the large increase in violent crime but you are not. Now a Democrat who runs on a platform that is hard on criminals has been elected in New York City. The community that is being hit the hardest by a soft on crime policy is the black community. Poling of blacks show that black people want more policing in their neighborhoods. This is certainly one thing that the black community and the Republicans have in common. Republicans are calling for policies that will save black lives. You on the other hand are not.


    All deaths are sad, unfortunate and devastating.

    42,915 people died on U.S. highways in 2021.

    Approximately 118 people die every day on highways.

    Why do the MSM NOT report those deaths?

    Why don’t communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) in America protest, accuse actual American conservatives of murder-by-motorized-vehicle, and demand that America BAN CARS?

  15. Here’s what Warren Burger had to say about misinterpretation of the Second Amendment for the benefit of the gun lobby:

    “The gun lobby’s interpretation of the Second Amendment is one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word fraud, on the American people by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime. The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state. The very language of the Second Amendment refutes any argument that it was intended to guarantee every citizen an unfettered right to any kind of weapon he or she desires.”

    1. . The real purpose of the Second Amendment was to ensure that state armies – the militia – would be maintained for the defense of the state

      So I get this right.
      The founders wrote the 2cnd amendment so the government would not take guns away from their own army?

      And they did this AFTER the Constitution was written and sent to the States to Ratify….because the People had serious fears about a centralized federal govt amassing so much power they would strip all power from the States, and the People.

      The Bill of Rights was added, to protect the people from the government.

      (the second amendment is one part of that protection)

    2. Natacha, the Russia Hoax you kept pushing here on the blog, long after it was debunked, was fraud, I repeat, fraud.

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