7th Jul 2021

06/24/2021 01:10 AM | CHRIS EGER

Just over a week before the country's Independence Day celebrations, President Biden delivered a speech on gun control in which he ridiculed the meaning, feasibility, and intent of the Second Amendment.

In an event meant to be the kickoff for another round of anti-gun legislation and executive actions for an Administration just 155 days in the White House, Biden tried to frame the Constitutional gun rights argument to justify his proposed efforts.

"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.

While the first part, about the Amendment "limiting the type of people," is somewhat true-- for example, the gun rights of enslaved and in some cases even freed blacks were often denied in the Southern States from the earliest days of the Constitution despite the Second Amendment-- Biden fails the fact check on cannon ownership. As we have covered before, anyone with the desire and extra cash could acquire their own battery of fully functional cannon without any government paperwork or permission until 1968.

With that being said, modern breechloading artillery is still available in the “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave,” provided it is registered with the federal government and properly taxed. Still, legacy artillery systems such as muzzleloading black powder field guns, do not require tax stamps.

Biden also went further into the woods against what the Second Amendment protects, arguing the enumerated right had something to do with hunting, although many in the gun rights community point out that Washington didn't cross the Delaware to get to a duck blind.

"No one needs to have a weapon that can fire over 30, 40, 50, even up to 100 rounds unless you think the deer are wearing Kevlar vests or something," he said, although magazine capacity restrictions have only been adopted in nine states-- and have been recently found to be Constitutionally suspect by a federal court. Further, industry data suggests consumers in the U.S. own at least 230 million detachable magazines, with about half of those able to hold more than 10 cartridges, the traditional threshold for a "large-capacity magazine" in restricted states.

Then, Biden seemed to paint the Second Amendment's potential check against tyranny, a concept that dates to the days of Constitutional framer James Madison, as ludicrous in the days of modern warfare, notwithstanding the realities of multi-domain modern insurgency.

"Those who say the blood of lib- — 'the blood of patriots,' you know, and all the stuff about how we’re going to have to move against the government. Well, the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots. What’s happened is that there have never been — if you wanted or if you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons," he said.

The quote Biden ramblingly alluded to, drawn a 1787 letter from Founding Father Thomas Jefferson-- author of The Declaration of Independence and later third U.S. President-- to William Smith, John Adams' secretary, can be argued to be directly related to the right to keep and bear arms and was penned at the time of Shays' Rebellion in Massachusetts.

We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is its natural manure.

It is not the first time that Biden trotted out the Jeffersonian quote in relation to his view on gun policy. In February 2020, while on the campaign trail for the Democratic nomination for President, he argued at a town hall event in New Hampshire that, "Those who say 'the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots' -- a great line, well, guess what: The fact is, if you’re going to take on the government you need an F-15 with Hellfire Missiles. There is no way an AK-47 is going to take care of you."