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Biden calls gun dealers ‘merchants of death’ in new gun control speech

President Joe Biden speaks to members of the press prior to a Marine One departure from the White House on March 23, 2022, in Washington, D.C. (Alex Wong/Getty Images/TNS)
April 11, 2022

President Joe Biden called gun dealers “merchants of death” while announcing his administration’s latest gun control actions during a speech at the White House on Monday.

“We’re going after rogue gun dealers. The last time we had data on this was more than 20 years ago. Five percent of gun dealers sold 90 percent of illegal guns found at crime scenes. Five percent sold 90 percent. These merchants of death are breaking the law for profits. Selling guns that are killing innocent people,” Biden said.

Biden’s speech focused on how his administration is “cracking down” on so-called untraceable “ghost guns” by banning “the business of manufacturing the most accessible ghost guns, such as unserialized ‘buy build shoot’ kits.”

“The NRA called this rule that I’m about to announce ‘extreme.’ Is it extreme to protect police officers? Is it extreme to protect our children? Is it extreme to keep guns out of the hands of people who couldn’t even pass a background check? Look, the idea that someone on a terrorist list could purchase one of these guns — it isn’t extreme. It’s just basic common sense,” he said.

“You know, if you buy a couch you have to assemble, it’s still a couch. If you order a package like this one over here,” Biden said, motioning to a “ghost gun” kit, “that includes the parts that you need and the directions for assembling a functioning firearm, you bought a gun.”

Despite the president’s claim, most firearm parts or kits already contain a serial number, require transfer at a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL) dealer, and a background check. This is because the ATF already considers complete lower receivers a “firearm” that is required to have a serial number and subject to standard firearm purchasing and transferring laws. An exception to this is “80% lower receivers” which aren’t considered “firearms” because they are only 80 percent completed, and completing them requires specialty tools, milling, as well as various internal parts.

Biden claimed that the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) has been able to trace less than one percent of the ghost guns reported by law enforcement.

The president also called on Congress to ban “assault weapons” and “high-capacity magazines,” asserting that Americans don’t need “20 bullets” which suggests that Biden believes guns are only needed to hunt.   

“What do you think the deer you’re hunting wear Kevlar vests, what the hell do you need 20 bullets for? You must be a hell of a terrible shot. No, I”m serious. Think about it,” Biden said before calling a “high-capacity” firearm a “weapon of war.”

“And by the way, it’s going to sound bizarre, but I support the Second Amendment. You have a right,” he continued. “But from the very beginning, the Second Amendment didn’t say you can own any gun you want. You couldn’t buy a cannon.”

This isn’t the first time President Biden has falsely claimed Americans couldn’t own a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed.

After Biden made the same claim last year, David Kopel, the research director and Second Amendment project director at the Independence Institute, said Biden’s claim about cannons and limits on firearms was “wrong.”

When the Second Amendment was ratified in 1791, “there were no federal laws about the type of gun you could own, and no states limited the kind of gun you could own,” Kopel said, according to a fact check by The Washington Post, which gave Biden’s repeated false claim “Four Pinocchios.”

Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) echoed the Post’s fact check, writing on Twitter, “Joe Biden fabricates this notion that the federal government has regulated private ownership of firearms since the beginning of our country. Cite the laws Joe, or it’s a lie.”

In a separate tweet, Massie noted that the U.S. Constitution “does not authorize the federal government to prevent you from making your own firearm.”

“This a fact that has been recognized for 200+ years. Also, Article 1, Section 1 (literally the first operative sentence in the Constitution) says Congress makes law, not POTUS!” Massie tweeted.