Biden Was Wrong About Cannons, but Right About the Second Amendment

Biden Was Wrong About Cannons, but Right About the Second Amendment

An old cannon sits atop of Federal Hill overlooking the city on July 30, 2019 in Baltimore, Maryland. President Joe Biden has been getting some flak this week over recent statements he made about the Second Amendment and the right to own a cannon. “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,” Biden asserted. “You couldn’t buy a cannon.” The Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler on Monday gave Biden “ Four Pinocchios ” for this remark, while gun rights activists have been snickering. While Biden did misstate the history—specifically, cannons were never explicitly outlawed in the Founding era—his critics , such as gun rights champions Glenn Harlan Reynolds and the David Kopel—are guilty of analogous distortions and are even less reliable guides to the history of the Second Amendment and gun regulation. More importantly, Biden’s basic point was not particularly controversial: guns have always been regulated and the Founding generation always balanced gun rights and the need to promote the peace and public safety. While Biden’s specific claim was wrong and poorly worded, he could have easily made his point by saying something like the following: At the time of the Second Amendment there was nothing to prevent government from regulating arms, including dangerous or usual weapons. Sir William Blackstone, one of the most important legal commentators on English law, expressly stated this principle in his Commentaries , a […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.