In a speech made from the White House on Thursday, President Joe Biden called for greater gun control measures. He said it is time to “confront not just the gun crisis but what is actually a public health crisis.”
The event, which was held in the Rose Garden, was attended by several high-profile gun control activists, including Brady United President Kris Brown and former Rep. Gabby Gifford (D-Ariz.).
Biden suggested that his recommendations would not impinge on the Second Amendment and he went on to suggest, “These are phony arguments suggesting that these are Second Amendment rights at stake from what we’re talking about.”
The president also suggested that “no amendment to the Constitution is absolute,” and then presented a misleading and factually incorrect history of the Second Amendment, in which he suggested, “From the very beginning, you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own. From the very beginning the Second Amendment existed, certain people weren’t allowed to have weapons. So the idea is just bizarre to suggest that some of the things we’re recommending are contrary to the Constitution.”
Neither statement is technically accurate. Until the passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968 there was no ban on interstate shipments of firearms to private individuals, and no ban on the sale of guns to minors, drug addicts or “mental incompetents.” It was also the first time that convicted felons were also banned from buying guns.
Therefore it is unclear who President Biden may be referring to when he suggested “from the very beginning,” and the same holds true on “you couldn’t own any weapon you wanted to own.” There was not a single weapon that the Founding Fathers called out or even a category of weapons. During the latter half of the 19th century, there were some firearms that were only made available to the U.S. military, but that was a matter of government contracts not as a means of gun control.
In fact, until the passage of the National Firearms Act of 1934, which restricted but didn’t outright “ban” firearms such as machine guns and short barreled rifles, civilians could walk into a gun shop and buy such weapons as a Thompson submachine gun! What is “just bizarre” is for President Biden to suggest that gun control has been part of the nation’s history since its foundation.
Biden also called upon the Department of Justice (DoJ) to propose within sixty days a rule on braces used for handguns, which make them more accurate; to propose action on “community violence intervention;” to publish suggestions for “red flag” legislation; and asked his administration to issue a report on gun trafficking. Additionally, he asked the DoJ to propose within the next month a rule to stop the sale of so-called “ghost guns”.
President Biden also pushed for lawmakers on Capitol Hill to do more.
“Enough prayers, time for some action,” Biden added. “I believe the Senate should immediately pass three House-passed bills to close loopholes that allow gun purchases, purchasers, to bypass the background checks.”
Biden also called for the overturning of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), a law that prevents gun manufacturers from being sued for crimes committed with firearms that were legally used.
Many have already pushed back against Biden’s calls.
“As we’ve seen over and over again, these measures do nothing to reduce gun violence but they do make people more vulnerable to criminals,” Julie Gunlock, director of the Center for Progress and Innovation at Independent Women’s Forum (IWF) said in a statement. “People have a right to defend themselves, and the government should have no role in telling people how to do it. President Biden’s EO (Executive Orders) will only embolden criminals and endanger law-abiding American lives.”
Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military small arms, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Amazon.com.