Jill Biden calls AR-15s "machine guns" at DNC fundraiser

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Fresh off her appearance in San Antonio where she compared Hispanics to breakfast tacos and butchered the pronunciation of “bodega”, First Lady Jill Biden jaunted off for three days in Massachusetts for a series fundraisers and public appearances. At one of her first stops, however, Biden let loose with a whopper of a lie about AR-15s, calling them “machine guns” before an audience of high-dollar Democratic donors.

Biden was at the Andover, Massachusetts home of Ashraf and Shamim Dahod for a DNC fundraiser on Thursday evening when she brought up the recent signing of the gun control deal brokered by Senate Democrats and a group of Republicans before launching  into a spiel about so-called assault weapons.

Speaking at the multi-story house located at the end of a well-groomed cul-de-sac, Biden said people often discourage others from going into politics, saying when President Joe Biden first started in politics, it was a revered career choice. She harked back to the passage of the 1993 assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004.

“Then it wasn’t renewed, so [President Joe Biden] stood up, he saw how why in the world would anyone need a machine gun, AR15? Why? We’ve seen what it’s done. And that took, I thought, political courage,” Jill Biden said at the fundraiser. “Once again, he’s trying, and I know it’s just a little bit, this gun bill … that has been passed, but it’s progress. Not probably as much as we all would want. I mean, we have to have an assault weapons ban, but we’ve got to, you know, keep moving forward. We can’t give up.”

Joe Biden’s been talking to his wife about the need to ban “assault weapons” for 20 years or so (maybe longer), and yet in all that time she never learned that AR-15s and the other so-called assault weapons her husband wants to ban aren’t machine guns, but rather semi-automatic rifles that fire one round for every pull of the trigger?

I find that awfully hard to believe. A more rational explanation is that Jill Biden knew what she was saying wasn’t accurate, but because she was talking to a bunch of anti-gun elitists in Andover, Massachusetts it didn’t matter that she conflated machine guns with semi-automatic firearms. The scarier the rhetoric the better, at least if you’re trying to get them to cut a check.

I’m not discounting the possibility that Jill Biden simply misspoke, but given her husband’s own history of comparing fully-automatic rifles with semi-autos, it’s not my leading theory. Remember this exchange during Biden’s campaign in 2020?

Former Vice President Joe Biden told a worker in Detroit on Tuesday that he was “full of shit” after the man accused Biden of wanting to “take away our guns” if he is elected president.

Later in their confrontation, after a tense exchange that isn’t clearly picked up by the video, Biden pointed his finger at the worker, who then exclaims “You’re working for me man!”

“I’m not working for — gimme a break, man,” Biden shot back. “Don’t be such a horse’s ass.”

“Here’s the deal,” he then asked the man. “Are you able to own a machine gun?” When the worker replied that “machine guns are illegal,” Biden then said he’d like to ban AR-15s in the same way, prompting the worker to argue about that the two weapons are different, and Biden to again ask whether the worker needs high capacity magazines.

“There are more deaths in America with hand guns than what you call assault weapons,” the worker responded as Biden’s staff begins to usher him away. “Why are you advocating for assault rifles when people are dying by hand guns?”

The Bidens may very well be the most gaffe-tastic couple ever to occupy the White House, but I’m not ready to chalk up Jill Biden’s machine gun remarks to a case of foot-in-mouth disease. The simplest explanation, at least to me, is that she chose her words with care and by design for her intended audience of high-dollar Democratic donors because the administration is keen to try to use gun control as a way to not only motivate the base to show up on Election Day, but to open up their checkbooks in the months before the midterms.

Aug 18, 2022 5:30 PM ET