President Joe Biden mocked the right to bear arms during a fundraising event at a private home in California on Wednesday. The president repeated his claim that an AR-15 is a weapon of war along with the narrative that Americans would need jet fighters to fight the U.S. government.
‘We have to change,” Biden said. “There’s a lot of things we can change because the American people by and large agree you don’t need a weapon of war. I’m a Second Amendment guy. I taught it for four years, six years in law school. And guess what? It doesn’t say that you can own any weapon you want. It says there are certain weapons that you just can’t own. Even during when it was passed, you couldn’t own a cannon. You can’t own a machine gun … No, I’m serious.
Biden continued: “You know, I love these guys who say the Second Amendment is — you know, the tree of liberty is water with the blood of patriots. Well, if [you] want to do that, you want to work against the government, you need an F-16. You need something else than just an AR-15.”
This was not the first time Biden used this talking point.
Biden told the National Action Network in January during a Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast that AR-15s would not be adequate to overthrow the U.S. government.
“Deer aren’t wearing kevlar vests out there, what the hell do you need an assault– no I’m serious,” Biden said. “And ban the number of bullets that go in a magazine. There’s no, no need for any of that.
He continued: “If you need to worry about taking on the federal government, you need some F-15s … You don’t need an AR-15.”
Joe Biden Says AR-15s Weapons of War?
Such rhetoric is just that, rhetoric, considering that semi-automatic weapons are not weapons of war. Many hunting rifles are more powerful than an AR-15. The 5.56 mm round fired by an AR-15 is too small to humanely kill a deer.
The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban targeted weapons based on cosmetic appearances, which led manufacturers to redesign their guns to comply.
AR-15s are semi-automatic rifles that fire a single bullet each time the trigger is pulled, unlike the M-4 or M-16, which can fire in fully automatic mode. Repeating firearms have been popular use since the 1840s when Samuel Colt invented his revolver. The development of the Henry rifle in 1860 introduced a weapon to the public and the military that could fire 16 shots at a time.
Machine guns have been restricted from popular use since the 1934 National Firearms Act, and a 1986 amendment prohibited the production of such weapons for private use.
What Did the Founders Say About the Right to Bear Arms?
Biden’s rhetoric rejects what James Madison wrote in Federalist 46.
“Let a regular army, fully equal to the resources of the country be formed; and let it be entirely at the devotion of the federal government; still it would not be going too far to say, that the state governments with the people on their side would be able to repel the danger,” Madison said. “The highest number to which, according to the best computation, a standing army can be carried in any country, does not exceed one hundredth part of the whole number of souls; or one twenty-fifth part of the number able to bear arms.”
Madison continued: “To these would be opposed a militia amounting to near half a million of citizens with arms in their hands, officered by men chosen from among themselves, fighting for their common liberties, and united and conducted by governments possessing their affections and confidence.”
Justice Joseph Story, who was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court by James Madison, noted in his 1830 Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, “The right of the citizens to keep and bear arms has justly been considered, as the palladium of the liberties of a republic; since it offers a strong moral check against the usurpation and arbitrary power of rulers; and will generally, even if these are successful in the first instance, enable the people to resist and triumph over them.”
Biden’s understanding of the issues involved in the right to bear arms is limited, as is his attempt to define what a weapon of war is.
John Rossomando was a senior analyst for Defense Policy and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.