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Are 9mm Handguns Really High-Caliber Weapons?

Glock 19
Glock 19. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

President Joe Biden isn’t failing to let a crisis go to waste, and once again he seems to be using a tragedy to push his gun-control agenda. In typical Joe Biden fashion, he isn’t letting facts get in the way of his argument. Rather he continues to make statements that border on misinformation and even outright lies.

On Monday, after returning from Uvalde, Texas, the president put 9mm handguns in the crosshairs and suggested that the “high-caliber weapons” should even be banned

“They said a .22-caliber bullet will lodge in the lung, and we can probably get it out — may be able to get it and save the life. A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body,” Biden said in remarks outside the White House. 

“So, the idea of these high-caliber weapons is, uh, there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of self-protection, hunting,” Biden continued. “Remember, the Constitution was never absolute. You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed. You couldn’t go out and purchase a lot of weaponry.”

RNC Research (@RNCResearch) shared the video clip of Biden’s statements on the White House lawn via social media.

Say it Ain’t so Joe

There are several problems with Biden’s argument. This reporter has spoken to firearms historians in the past, and deeply researched this topic. There was never a ban on cannon ownership, nor is there today, while military weapons of the post-Revolutionary War were typically inferior to civilian-made firearms. 

Yet Biden continually repeats this point. 

It is clearly a line he likes, and Biden – who has a knack for telling tall tales and making up stories that seem too good to be true – is sticking to it, even when outlets including The Washington Post and have fact-checked him on the statement. Some experts have even suggested that this misinformation in talking points would likely hurt the cause of gun control, simply because they’re so easy to call out.

“When you state something that is wrong on any issue, you’ll be ridiculed, and this is true on social media. You really don’t want to find yourself in that position,” Mike Lawlor, associate professor of criminal justice at the Henry C. Lee College of Criminal Justice and Forensic Sciences at the University of New Haven, told this reporter last week.

“Before you dive into this topic, you need to learn about it,” Lawlor added. “That is what you should do to have a well-rounded opinion, but also because once you get caught saying something that isn’t accurate, it will certainly undermine your position.”

9mm Isn’t High Powered

Anyone who knows anything about firearms knows that a 9mm round is not “high-powered” in the least. The round, which was developed as the 9x19mm Parabellum or Luger pistol round, was introduced in the early 20th century and has become the most popular cartridge for handguns.

According to data from Shooting Industry magazine, 9mm pistols account for more than 40% of all handguns produced in the United States. Given the popularity of the cartridge, it is easy to see why anyone with a gun-control agenda would attempt to spread misinformation about it. 

If Biden could convince lawmakers to ban 9mm rounds – a highly unlikely prospect – it could erode a sizeable portion of the handgun market. Focusing on the 9mm is also possibly an effort to villainize handguns in general.

However, another possibility is that Biden became confused on the matter – not a stretch, given that he is known as quite the “gaffe machine.”

“I had wondered if Biden was mistaking 9mm for AR rounds because there’s been so much discussion about the damage AR bullets have done,” Republican strategist Matt Whitlock told Newsweek. “But he was intentionally targeting 9mm, the most popular home defense caliber in America.”

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, and is the author of several books on military headgear including A Gallery of Military Headdress, which is available on Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.