Over Memorial Day weekend, as Americans mourned U.S. military members who died protecting the rights enshrined in the Constitution, President Biden continued to make false statements about the Second Amendment and claimed that the Constitution was “never absolute.”
“Remember, the Constitution, the Second Amendment 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 weapons,” Biden said.
However, there were no limitations on guns when the Second Amendment was passed. In fact, the first federal gun law was not until the 1934 National Firearms Act, and the states were not constrained by the Second Amendment until the Fourteenth Amendment was ratified in 1868. Biden has repeatedly made this claim in the past, earning him “Four Pinocchios” from the Washington Post in 2021 and a “False” label from PolitiFact in 2020.
After advocating for additional restrictions on guns, Biden went on to say that Americans cannot currently legally access sufficient weaponry to protect themselves against the government, and that an “F-15” or an “Abrams tank” would be needed. Notably, Biden oversaw the disastrous U.S. pullout from Afghanistan less than a year ago amid a takeover of the country by the Taliban – a vastly technologically inferior group that did not even have an air force.
“There was a while there where people were saying that, you know, the Tree of Liberty is watered with the blood of patriots, and what we have to do is you have to be able to take on the government when they’re wrong,” Biden said on Memorial Day. “Well, to do that, you need an F-15, you know? Or you need an Abrams tank.”
As James Madison, a Founding Father and the fourth President of the United States, wrote in Federalist 46, the purpose of the Second Amendment was to guarantee the American people would have the power to defend themselves against a tyrannical government by protecting the right to bear arms.
Madison explains, “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.”
Compared to the people of other nations, Americans have “the advantage of being armed,” Madison explains. Madison goes on to advise against the argument that Americans would be unable to defend their rights against the government, writing, “Let us not insult the free and gallant citizens of America with the suspicion, that they would be less able to defend the rights of which they would be in actual possession, than the debased subjects of arbitrary power would be to rescue theirs from the hands of their oppressors.”
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