President Joe Biden traveled to New York City for a media event recently to try and show America he’s doing something about rampant urban crime. Instead, he blamed the Second Amendment and lawful gun owners, said nothing about holding criminals to account and repeated the same tired lies about the firearm industry he keeps at the ready – lies “fact-checked” as being false each time he’s previously recited them.
It makes no difference to the president. He’s not even trying anymore. To President Biden and national gun control groups the problem is always the gun and the law-abiding members of the industry. It’s never the criminal.
Blaming the ‘Resistance’
President Biden was joined by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, Democratic New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams for a “Gun Violence Strategies Partnership” meeting to talk about how to solve the crime surge, particularly those involving firearms. Instead of real solutions, the focus devolved into blaming law-abiding gun owners and again pushing a gun control agenda.
“Enough is enough,” President Biden said. “Because we know we can do things about this, but for the resistance, we’re getting from some sectors of the government and the Congress and the state legislatures, and the organizational structures out there.”
That “resistance” the president spoke of is the American people. Over the past two years they’ve become fed up with police defunding policies and soft-on-crime prosecutors, like Manhattan’s Democratic District Attorney Alvin Bragg. They’ve invested in their own safety. The “resistance” is the 21 million lawful gun buyers in 2020, including more than 8.4 million first-time buyers, and the 18.5 million gun buyers in 2021, with more than 5.4 million first-timers.
The ”resistance” has backstopped Congress from passing federal gun control that don’t address crime. It also stopped President Biden’s nominations of paid gun control lobbyist David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and banking activist (and Operation Chokepoint supporter) Saule Omarova as Comptroller of the Currency because not even all U.S. Senate Democrats could support them.
They would have turned those agencies into bludgeons to hammer the firearm industry to achieve a special interest, gun control agenda.
The president turned his aim from lawful gun owners towards the firearm industry and repeated a lie he’s rehearsed several times before.
“Imagine had we had a liabil… [sic] they’re the only industry in America that is exempted from being able to be sued by the public. Only one,” the president protested. “Why the gun manufacturers?… It’s got to end. They’ve got to be held responsible for the things they do that are irresponsible.”
He repeated the claim for emphasis. “And I find that outrageous.”
This is flatly false. The president knows by now, or his speechwriters do and they don’t bother with the facts. CNN, Politicfact and the Washington Post have all checked President Biden on his remark, including after he said it in the White House Rose Garden.
CNN cleanly rebuked it. “This is false. Gun manufacturers are not entirely exempt from being sued, nor are they only industry with some liability protections.” Politifact rated it “false.” Washington Post wasn’t kinder, saying, “Biden is wrong to claim the gun industry is totally immune.”
The firearm industry has liability protections under the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA), bipartisan legislation enacted under former President George W. Bush. Gun makers and sellers can’t be held liable when unaffiliated third-parties — in this case criminals — misuse a legal, lawfully sold product. It’s fundamental tort law and is similar to an individual attempting to hold Ford and Budweiser responsible for drunk driving deaths.
The law was passed in direct response to lawsuits filed against the industry by control groups and municipalities like the city of New York and the state of New York. These type of lawsuit continue to be filed, now even by foreign governments represented by the same gun control group, the Brady Center.
President Biden continued to ignore facts on the Second Amendment and its history. He even erred when speaking about the Revolution-era days and why the right to keep and bear arms was so sacrosanct.
“When the amendment was passed, it didn’t say anybody could own a gun and any kind of gun and any kind of weapon,” President Biden remarked. “You couldn’t buy a cannon, and when – the – when this, uh, this amendment was passed.” It did, and does, say the right of the People “shall not be infringed.”
Even The Washington Post was brutal in their assignment of “Four Pinocchio’s” to this statement. “Biden has already been fact-checked on this claim — and it’s been deemed false. We have no idea where he 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.”
In fact, the Constitution of early America – before the Bill of Rights, and Second Amendment, was even ratified – granted and encouraged “special waivers” to American merchants and sailors, “allowing private individuals to act as pirates on behalf of the United States against countries engaged in war with it.” Americans given waivers and who owned warships obviously also obtained cannons for use in battle.
In fact, it is still perfectly legal to buy a cannon today.
It is the presidents’ fundamental misunderstanding and blatant lying about the Second Amendment that informs his gun control agenda and misguided approach to solving the crime problem. Millions of law-abiding Americans took ownership of their Second Amendment rights to protect themselves, understanding the president won’t.
Instead of mangling the meaning of the right and pushing for more gun control on law-abiding Americans, the president should keep it simple. Take on the criminals and punish them for breaking the law.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.