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President Joe Biden addressed gun violence and white supremacy in his speech to Congress.

USA TODAY

The claim: Joe Biden said you don’t need guns and ammo

During his first address to a joint session of Congress on April 28, President Joe Biden called on lawmakers to take urgent action on gun violence in the U.S., which he declared an “epidemic.”

There have been at least 142 mass shootings since Biden’s first day in office, according to nonprofit research group Gun Violence Archive, which defines a mass shooting as incident with four or more people injured or killed. 

Biden has said he is “not opposed to the Second Amendment.” But a recent Instagram post from the National Rifle Association suggests otherwise. 

“When the President of the United States says you don’t need guns and ammo…YOU NEED GUNS AND AMMO. #PresidentialAddress,” reads an April 28 tweet from the NRA shared as a screen grab to Instagram. Accompanying the text is an image of Biden during his speech. 

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The original tweet from the NRA has over 5,000 retweets and 17,700 likes and the Instagram post has over 163,000 likes. 

What Biden actually said

The NRA defended the summary in an email to USA TODAY.

“The post stands as it is written. Joe Biden, the President of the United States, has repeatedly said that ‘no one NEEDS an AR-15’ – America’s most popular rifle, and that no one needs an appropriate amount of ammunition to defend themselves, their loved ones, and their communities,” said Billy McLaughlin, the group’s digital director.

McLaughlin pointed to a section of Biden’s April 28 speech where he called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Biden did call on Congress to reinstate a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, however, at no point during his nearly 70-minute speech did he say Americans “don’t need guns and ammo.” 

“We need a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Don’t tell me it can’t be done,” Biden said, according to a Rev.com transcript. “We did it before, and it worked.” 

Saying he didn’t want to become confrontational, Biden also urged Republican lawmakers to join Democrats in approving background checks for firearm purchases. 

Biden claimed most responsible gun owners and hunters would say “there’s no possible justification for having 100 rounds in a weapon” and “tell you that there are too many people today who are able to buy a gun but shouldn’t be able to buy a gun.”

However, surveys show that while a majority of gun owners support stronger background checks, they are divided on the ban of large-capacity magazines. A 2019 NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist Poll found 47% of gun owners supported a ban with 50% were against it. Similarly, a 2019 Washington Post and ABC News poll found 48% in support of a ban and 48% against.  

Additionally, Biden called for a ban on “ghost guns,” untraceable weapons without serial numbers that do not require a typical background check. 

“These kinds of reasonable reforms have overwhelming support from the American people, including many gun owners,” Biden said in his speech. “The country supports reform, and Congress should act. This shouldn’t be a red or blue issue, and no amendment to the Constitution is absolute.” 

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Speaking to gun rights advocates who view gun control measures as a violation of the Second Amendment, Biden said, “We’re not changing the Constitution. We’re being reasonable.” 

Biden executive actions on gun violence

A series of initiatives addressing gun violence recently signed by Biden also make no mention of Americans not needing firearms or ammo. 

The actions Biden plans to take include requiring the Justice Department to propose a rule that would subject pistols with stabilizing braces to the requirements of the National Firearms Act and publishing model “red flag” laws for states. Those laws allow courts to temporarily bar people from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

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Additional steps involve requiring an annual report on firearm tracking from the Justice Department, directing federal agencies to make changes to 26 different programs and nominating David Chipman as Director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. 

Our rating: Missing context

The claim that Biden said you don’t need guns and ammo is MISSING CONTEXT, because without additional information it could be misleading. The NRA post exaggerates what Biden actually said during his joint address to Congress. Biden called for a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines and to expand background checks for gun buyers.  He did not make any general claim that Americans don’t need guns and ammunition.

Our fact-check sources: 

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