During a CNN “town hall” meeting in late July, President Joe Biden (D) said he wants to outlaw America’s most-popular handgun: the 9 mm semi-automatic pistol.
“The idea you need a weapon that can have the ability to fire 20, 30, 40, 50, 120 shots from that weapon, whether it’s a 9 mm pistol or whether it’s a rifle, is ridiculous,” Biden said. “I’m continuing to push to eliminate the sale of those things.”
Of course, Biden has pushed for a ban on semi-automatic rifles for some time. But many of America’s law-abiding gun owners, along with representatives from some pro-gun organizations, were surprised at Biden’s audacity to say he also wants to ban 9 mm pistols.
Law-abiding Americans own tens of millions of 9 mm pistols and use them regularly for a variety of reasons.
“Over half the firearms sold in any given year are handguns, and in last year’s record year for background checks for gun sales—at 21 million—that tells us over 10 million were sold. Americans were buying those firearms because they were concerned for their personal safety,” said Mark Oliva, director of public affairs for the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF).
Biden’s idea of banning 9 mm pistols that could hold magazines with more than 10 rounds of ammunition also flies directly in the face of important legal precedent. The critical court cases upholding that precedent are quite familiar to most American gun owners, and since the president and his staff have easy access to those decisions, they should be familiar to them, too.
“Biden’s proposed ban on commonly owned semi-automatic firearms capable of accepting a detachable magazine is unconstitutional,” NRA’s Institute for Legislative action stated. “The landmark Second Amendment U.S. Supreme Court case District of Columbia v. Heller concerned a complete prohibition on the ownership of handguns in Washington, D.C. The opinion made clear that the Second Amendment at a minimum protects the right to acquire and possess firearms ‘in common use at the time’ for lawful purposes such as self-defense.”
Still, Biden’s pronouncement shouldn’t have come as a surprise to those who keep a close eye on the battle over the Second Amendment. NRA-ILA reported back in November 2019 that then-candidate Biden made a similar statement. At a fundraiser in Seattle, Biden said, “Why should we allow people to have military-style weapons including pistols with 9 mm bullets and can hold 10 or more rounds?”
True to form, the anti-gun “fact-check” site PolitiFact quickly came to Biden’s defense, claiming that he doesn’t actually want to ban 9 mm pistols at all, but only those capable of using so-called “high-capacity” magazines. Even if that was what Biden meant, it would still cover millions upon millions of handguns owned and used by lawful Americans, including virtually every 9 mm pistol.
Take for instance the ultra-popular, polymer-framed Glock striker-fired 9 mm pistols. The Glock 26 comes with a 10-round magazine, so one might think it would be deemed “acceptable” by Biden. But since it will accept 15-round Glock 19 magazines as well as 17-round Glock 17 magazines, it would still be covered by the president’s suggested ban.
The same would be true for many popular series of pistols from other manufactures. Even smaller pistols that come with magazines holding fewer than 10 rounds can often accept higher-capacity magazines from the same manufacturer. And even the latest crop of wildly popular ultra-compact 9 mm carry pistols introduced in the last few years by Springfield (Hellcat), SIG Sauer (P365), Smith & Wesson (Shield Plus) and Ruger (MAX-9) are capable of accepting magazines holding more than 10 rounds.
In fact, 9 mm pistols are not only the most-popular pistols in the United States, but are also widely used across the world by citizens, law-enforcement agencies and militaries. In its annual report on the U.S. Firearms Industry, Shooting Industry reported that 9 mm pistols are the most-commonly produced pistol, and have been for many years. In 2018, there were more than 2 million 9 mm pistols produced in the United States.
Law-abiding Americans own tens of millions of 9 mm pistols and use them regularly for home defense, self-defense, sport shooting and competitive shooting sports. The latest figures put the total ammo production in the United States at about 10 billion rounds a year. Based on that number, there’s little doubt that ammunition companies produce 9 mm rounds by the hundreds of millions every year to meet the demand. And, out of the 8.4 million Americans estimated to have bought a firearm for the first time last year, it’s not unlikely that a couple million of them—if not more—bought a handgun that falls under Biden’s ban plans.
In fact, it’s easy for the average consumer to see the immense popularity of 9 mm pistols when ammo starts getting tight at local stores. During the current ammunition shortage, the 9 mm section was the first to disappear from store shelves.
While Biden specifically mentioned 9 mm pistols, it’s important to note that his proposal likely wouldn’t stop there. If, indeed, he was referring to any pistol that has the capability of accepting a magazine that holds more than 10 rounds, his ban would also outlaw many semi-automatic pistols chambered in .380 Auto, .40 S&W, .357 SIG., .45 ACP, 5.7x28 mm and even .22 LR.
In the end, just about every avid shooter in the United States could open his or her gun safe and find at least a couple of guns that Biden wants to outlaw. That’s not what the Founders meant when they penned the words, “… shall not be infringed.”