We came across the following screenshot of a Twitter post trending on social media:
The post claims that the president of the United States, Joe Biden, ‘flexed’ (or arrogantly described) about how easy it would be to bomb US citizens.
When we investigated the source of these remarks, it appears to have originated from a speech on the 30th of August in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where Biden spoke about his ‘Safer American Plan’ for gun control.
The exact quote by Biden is as follows:
‘They’re not unlimited [referring to Second Amendment rights]. Right now, you can’t go on and buy an automatic weapon. You can’t go out and buy a cannon. And for those brave, right-wing Americans who say it’s all about keeping America—keeping America as independent and safe: If you want to fight against a country, you need an F-15. You need something a little more than a gun. No, I’m not joking. Think about this. Think about the rationale we use—that’s used to provide this. And who are they shooting at? They’re shooting at these guys behind me [referring to members of the crowd].’
A video of this section of the speech can be found in this YouTube video on Newsweek’s channel.
These remarks have since been interpreted and reported by some conservative media outlets such as Breitbart as a threat to use force against American citizens, such as by bombing them with the F-15 fighter jets.
A Long-running Conflict
This is not the first time Biden has made the point that weapons far more lethal than guns would be required to take on a tyrannical government—which is the rationale given by some gun rights advocates for maintaining gun rights.
In June 2021, Biden was again accused by Donald Trump Jr., the son of the former president, of having threatened to ‘nuke law-abiding American citizens’ after Biden had made another speech discussing Second Amendment rights.
The claim was evaluated as false by the factcheck organisation Lead Stories, which found that Biden had also stated in his speech that the goal of gun control was to ‘rationally limit the type of weapon than can be owned and who can own it’.
Biden appeared to be contesting the rationale of gun rights advocates that guns were necessary to resist tyranny. He did so by stating that only powerful nuclear weapons and fighter jets would be sufficient for that purpose, and that therefore the aim of resisting tyranny could not be the foundation of gun rights.
A Veritable Dud
While Biden’s repeated argument may not resonate with some or appear to be expressed clumsily, there is no indication that he threatened American citizens with the use of force.
It is possible that given the polarised political environment in the US, Biden’s comments may have been intentionally misinterpreted in order to inflame supporters of gun rights, many of whom identify as conservatives and support Biden’s political rivals.
Moreover, many of these conservative media outlets have a shaky record when it comes to credibility. Breitbart, one of the best-established, has been evaluated by the independent factcheck organisation MBFC (Media Bias/Fact Check) as being a questionable source with ‘extreme right-wing bias’ and a history of publishing conspiracy theories and propaganda.
As such, the claim that Biden threatened to bomb American citizens is false.