October 6, 2022
President Biden spoke to reporters about his thoughts on 9mm handguns, calling them "high-caliber" and claiming that the Constitution is not "absolute."

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President Biden on Monday took aim at 9mm handguns, appearing to suggest that the “high-caliber weapons” ought to be banned. 

The president made the remarks outside the White House after returning from a visit to the site of a mass shooting in Texas where 21 people, including 19 elementary school children, were killed last week. 

President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 30, 2022, after returning from Wilmington, Del.

President Joe Biden speaks to members of the media on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Monday, May 30, 2022, after returning from Wilmington, Del. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Recounting a visit to a New York trauma hospital, Biden said doctors showed him X-rays of gunshot wounds. 

“They 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,” Biden said. 

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“So, the idea of these high-caliber weapons is, uh, there’s simply no rational basis for it in terms of self-protection, hunting,” Biden added. “Remember, the constitution was never absolute.” 

“You couldn’t buy a cannon when the Second Amendment was passed,” Biden said. “You couldn’t go out and purchase a lot of weaponry.” 

The president, however, ruled out the possibility of issuing an executive order on guns, saying: “I can’t dictate this stuff.” 

UVALDE, TEXAS - MAY 26: A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement.

UVALDE, TEXAS – MAY 26: A memorial is seen surrounding the Robb Elementary School sign following the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School on May 26, 2022 in Uvalde, Texas. According to reports, 19 students and 2 adults were killed, with the gunman fatally shot by law enforcement. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

“I can do the things I’ve done and any executive action I can take, I’ll continue to take. But I can’t outlaw a weapon. I can’t change a background check. I can’t do that,” he said. 

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Biden’s comments were in line with his tough stance on guns during the 2020 presidential campaign. Speaking during a fundraising event in Seattle in November 2019, Biden said he supported the Second Amendment but called absolutist arguments about gun-rights “bizarre.” 

“Why should we allow people to have military-style weapons including pistols with 9-mm bullets and can hold 10 or more rounds,” he said. 

The 9mm round is the most popular handgun caliber in the United States, accounting for well over half of all handguns produced in 2019, according to Shooting Industry magazine. The data showed that throughout the 2010s, 9mm pistols made up more than 40% of all pistols produced in the United States – or roughly four in every ten pistols. 

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022. 

Children run to safety after escaping from a window during a mass shooting at Robb Elementary School where a gunman killed nineteen children and two adults in Uvalde, Texas, U.S. May 24, 2022.  (Pete Luna/Uvalde Leader-News/Handout via REUTERS)

The Second Amendment is once again in the crosshairs after a lone gunman, identified as 18-year-old Salvador Ramos, killed 19 children and two adults at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas, some 85 miles west of San Antonio. 

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The assault was the deadliest shooting at a U.S. grade school since a gunman killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, nearly a decade ago.