Biden Repeats False Attack on the Second Amendment That Even the Washington Post Debunked

On Thursday, President Biden gave public remarks where he renewed his calls to ban “assault weapons.” (A vague term that generally refers to scary-looking guns.) To justify this ban, Biden argued that the Second Amendment isn’t absolute—and in doing so, the president falsely claimed that the Second Amendment banned cannons in early American history. 

“[Banning assault weapons] doesn’t violate anybody’s Second Amendment rights,” he said. “There is no amendment that is absolute.”

Then Biden got into historical analysis that was… interesting. 

“When the amendment was passed it didn’t say anybody can own a gun and any kind of weapon,” Biden claimed. “You couldn’t buy a cannon when this amendment was passed, so there’s no reason you should be able to buy certain assault weapons.”

This bizarre aside is more than a non sequitur. It’s actually false. As Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler noted in September 2021: 

“You do not have to look far in the Constitution to see that private individuals could own cannons. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 11 gives Congress the power to declare war. But there is another element of that clause that might seem strange to modern ears — Congress also had the power to ‘grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal.’

What’s that? These were special waivers that allowed private individuals to act as pirates on behalf of the United States against countries engaged in war with it. The ‘letter of marque’ allowed a warship to cross into another country’s territory to take a ship, while a ‘letter of reprisal’ gave authorization to bring the ship back to the home port of the capturer.

Individuals who were given these waivers and owned warships obviously also obtained cannons for use in battle. We have no idea where [Biden] conjured up this notion about a ban on cannon ownership in the early days of the Republic, but he needs to stop making this claim.”

That’s right: Biden’s wrong about the history of the Second Amendment and the facts. Don’t forget that guns are used more times in self-defense annually than in violent crimes. Oh, and don’t forget that we already had a ban on “assault weapons” for over a decade and even liberal-leaning outlets like Vox have admitted it didn’t work.  

So, it’s easy to see why Biden keeps stretching the truth to push his anti-gun policies. None of the facts are on his side.

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Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo
Brad Polumbo is a libertarian-conservative journalist and co-founder of Based Politics. His work has been cited by top lawmakers such as Senator Rand Paul, Senator Ted Cruz, Senator Pat Toomey, Congresswoman Nancy Mace, Congressman Thomas Massie, and former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley, as well as by prominent media personalities such as Jordan Peterson, Sean Hannity, Dave Rubin, Ben Shapiro, and Mark Levin. Brad has also testified before the US Senate, appeared on Fox News and Fox Business, and written for publications such as USA Today, National Review, Newsweek, and the Daily Beast. He hosts the Breaking Boundaries podcast and has a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


  1. Citizens owned cannons.
    Semi-automatic and rapid-fire firearms already existed.
    There was no such nonsense as “high capacity”.
    When the founders wrote the 2nd amendment, they had full knowledge of the immense firepower that citizens possessed, and they were ok with it.
    Why? Because they knew such firepower MUST be dispersed amongst the people, or it would surely be consolidated fully within the government.
    A government with a monopoly on force can do anything it wants. The founders stood in direct opposition to this notion and enshrined the right to keep and bear arms immediately behind the 1st amendment to emphasize its importance.

  2. Similarly, there were many languages that were not spoken in America when the First Amendment was written. So, the First Amendment obviously does not apply to anyone who speaks those languages. /sarc

  3. Leftists always lie. They always lie to further any cause they have. No surprise here.

    #FJB and all democrats destroying our once great country.

  4. “We have no idea where [Biden] conjured up this notion about a ban on cannon ownership in the early days of the Republic, but he needs to stop making this claim.” It came from the fact that he is a born LIAR, he rarely ever tells the truth and when he does it is because his dementia addle brain does so by mistake. Biden knows two things, lying, which he does constantly and stealing, whether by taking bribes or misappropriating funds or selling out America and her people.

  5. Actually, Glenn Kessler was a bit off in his article. A Letter of Marque and Reprisal did not make you a pirate; it made you a privateer. That is an important legal distinction. The Letter of Marque and Reprisal was issued to make them an official agent of the government so that they would NOT be classified as pirates. In addition, back then, crews of naval ships that captured enemy ships would receive prize money after the sale of the enemy ship and cargo awarded by a prize court … just like the Privateers did. Finally, there was a clear distinction between the land and naval forces of the day. This continued until after the second world war when we reorganized into the Department of Defense from the Department of War (Army) and the Department of the Navy (created a little later). Traditionally, only the Army was referred to as the Military (from “Martial”) or Land Forces and the Navy was the Navy or Naval Forces. (Check out FDR’s speech to Congress after Pearl Harbor). Today, anyone with a uniform is referred to as Military. The Founders were concerned about a standing Army’s threat to Liberty after the quartering of British troops in homes and their confiscation of Colonists weapons. They placed a two-year appropriations limit for the Army, while the Navy had no such restriction. This was in part a recognition of the long-term investment and training required for building and manning ships and the mistaken idea that an Army could be created overnight from Militia, but it mainly centered on the concern of a standing Army’s threat to liberty. They did not have such concerns about the Navy, so Mr. Kessler’s reference to purchase of cannons for privateers is a bit weak. Actually, a great many merchant ships of the day had some number of small cannons for self-defense, not just privateers. A better argument against the totalitarian Left’s issue with scary assault weapons is that there was no issue with anyone owning a Brown Bess and bayonet, the “Assault Weapon” of its day. The restriction against full-automatic capability of weapons is one that most people agree with, and that is restriction enough and should go no further.


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