Biden: "No rational basis" for "high-caliber" ... 9 mm pistols?

Did Joe Biden misspeak here, or did he commit a more Kinsleyan gaffe? Allahpundit included it in the previous post, but Biden’s claim here deserves its own special focus, particularly when Democrats plan to set up a series of show votes this week in Congress.


It’s not just that Biden’s ignorance on firearms issues gets full exposure in this clip, but that his overall aims do as well:

On Monday, Biden said the assault weapons ban in the 1990s had “significantly cut down mass murders.”

And he recalled a visit to a New York trauma hospital when he was a Senator conducting hearings on what “rational gun laws” should be.

“When I first started doing hearings on the issue of what rational gun laws should be, it was during a period when I was a Senator and the death rate was going up,” Biden said.

“And I sat with a trauma doctor, and I asked him—I said, ‘What’s the difference?’… I said, ‘Why are they dying?’ And they showed me x-rays. He said, ‘A .22-caliber bullet will lodge in the lung, and we can probably get it out, may be able to get it, and save the life. A 9mm bullet blows the lung out of the body.’

“So the idea of these high-caliber weapons is of—there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of thinking about self-protection, hunting… and 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.”


We can let the claims about cannons and numbers of guns slide here, since even the liberal-leaning PolitiFact called Biden out for that falsehood — twice. Similarly, we can dispense with the claim on mass-shooting statistics and the assault-weapons ban, as that has little to do with calibers of ammunition but also that the claim is at least statistically suspect.

There is no definition of “high caliber” that includes the 9mm round. It’s certainly larger than a .22, but it’s smaller than other popular calibers for pistols and other firearms, including the .40, .44, and .45 caliber rounds. It’s at most a “moderate caliber” ammunition, if such a thing even exists. Moreover, it has become perhaps the most popular ammunition for personal carry precisely because it’s not too large to carry and conceal and the pistols can be controlled easier than larger-caliber firearms. It’s also quite popular with law enforcement, likely for some of those same reasons.

Needless to say, a 9mm round does not “blow the lung out of the body.” That’s an idiotic claim to make on both ballistics and anatomy. If the argument is that a 9mm is more effective than a .22 at stopping someone in a self-defense situation, that’s likely to be true. But that’s precisely why 9mm firearms are more popular for that purpose, too. The point of armed self-defense is to end a threat to life or severe bodily harm. Why would someone choose a firearm that offers less effective means of accomplishing that task?


This gaffe might matter more than some others, as Biden’s making his aims clearer for much broader gun control than simply “assault weapons.” He wants to come after classes of weapons owned by millions of Americans, not just rifles but also handguns as well, a masks-off moment that will make this a much tougher lift for Democrats and moderate Republicans especially:

The House Judiciary Committee will be holding an emergency hearing on Thursday to mark up a package of gun-control bills as Congress wrestles with the twin massacres in Uvalde and Buffalo, as well as soaring gun violence nationally.

The panel will consider a robust package of eight gun-related bills which Democrats are calling the “Protecting Our Kids Act.”

The omnibus package includes bills to raise the purchasing age for semi-automatic rifles from 18 to 21; ban the import, sale, manufacture, transfer or possession of high-capacity ammunition magazines, although existing magazines are “grandfathered” in; requires existing bump stocks be registered under the National Firearms Act and bars the manufacture, sale, or possession of new bump stocks for civilian use; amends the definition of “ghost guns” to require background checks on all sales, as ATF is trying to do through rulemaking; beefs up federal criminal penalties for gun trafficking and “straw purchases”; and establishes new requirements for storing guns at home – especially with minors present – while providing tax credits for storage devices.


Some of this might get bipartisan support … in a presidential vacuum. Beefing up sentences for gun trafficking is an easy sell, even to Republican hardliners who have argued all along for better enforcement of existing statutes. The rest of these are non-starters, however, as long as Biden’s demagoguing on 9mm pistols and clearly aiming for what Allahpundit called “a broad disarmament” of Americans. (Worth noting too: the Ninth Circuit ruled an age-based denial for adults in purchasing semi-automatics in California unconstitutional less than three weeks ago.) All Democrats will get out of this is another show vote or two.

However, Biden’s message here is that he wants a lot more gun control than he’s claimed in the past. It’s not just AR-15s or assault rifles that Biden wants banned, but any firearm of effective caliber that Biden assesses as “irrational.” That makes this a Kinsleyan gaffe rather than a mistake that the White House can easily walk back.

Addendum: I’ll let Professor Jonathan Turley tackle Biden’s “disinformation” about the Second Amendment:


I’d prefer to call it dishonest demagoguery, but Biden and his administration seem to prefer “disinformation” as a label.

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