CLAIM: During his June 23, 2021, gun control speech President Joe Biden claimed the Second Amendment prohibited Americans from purchasing a cannon at the time it was ratified.
Biden said, “The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of the people who could own a gun [and] what type of weapon you could own. You couldn’t buy a cannon.”
Biden’s claim about not being allowed to purchase cannons is not new. He made it on May 21, 2020, and it was, at that time, shown to be false by PolitiFact.
PolitiFact noted Biden comparing “assault weapons” to cannons, saying: “They have no rationale for being owned by individuals on the street. They should be outlawed… From the very beginning you weren’t allowed to have certain weapons. You weren’t allowed to own a cannon during the Revolutionary War as an individual.”
Julie Anne Sweet, director of military studies at Baylor University, told PolitiFact: “It seems highly unlikely that there were restrictions on the private ownership [of cannons].”
Independent Institute’s Dave Kopel told PolitiFact, “I am not aware of a ban on any arm in colonial America.”
When the British Army swept into the South during the American Revolution they faced farmers, landowners, and other colonists who were armed with weapons very similar to their own. There was little, if any, difference between the British muskets and other firearms and the muskets and other firearms used by the colonists.
The often un-uniformed colonists were able to devastate the uniformed, military-trained British regulars and eventually force them to surrender on October 19, 1781.
The Second Amendment did not forbid the purchase of a cannon.
Baylor’s Julie Anne Sweet observed, “Any sort of gun regulations would have been at the local level, and therefore incredibly difficult and tedious to chase down. The new states were still writing new constitutions and probably did not take this matter into consideration.”
AWR Hawkins is an award-winning Second Amendment columnist for Breitbart News and the writer/curator of Down Range with AWR Hawkins, a weekly newsletter focused on all things Second Amendment, also for Breitbart News. He is the political analyst for Armed American Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @AWRHawkins. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can sign up to get Down Range at breitbart.com/downrange.