President Joe Biden has repeatedly suggested when it was first drafted there were restrictions to the Second Amendment. He pressed the point by stating that “you couldn’t own a cannon,” while more recently he’s made the argument that the Second Amendment isn’t absolute in that Americans today can’t own a machine gun.
The president is of course wrong on both counts.
First, numerous media outlets have fact-checked Biden on the former point and reported that cannons were, in fact, legal to own, and were commonly employed on civilian merchant ships in the late 18th century. Most Americans simply didn’t own cannons because there was little reason to have one. As for the second point, Biden is also wrong — and today, residents in 37 states can legally own a machine gun if they go through the process of doing a transfer with the National Firearms Act (NFA) branch of the ATF.
More importantly, there was a time when machine guns were marketed to consumers. That included famously the Thompson submachine gun, which was pitched to ranchers in the 1920s, but in fact, one of the very first American-produced machine guns was also offered for sale to civilians.