Joe Biden Gun Plan Contrasted With Arming Ukraine, Sparking Debate

Conservatives responded with anger to President Joe Biden's speech on gun violence on Thursday with some comparing the president's push for tighter gun laws to the administration's efforts to arm Ukraine.

Biden urged a ban on assault weapons in his televised speech from the White House but he also appeared to recognize that was unlikely in the current political climate and said that if "we can't ban assault weapons, as we should, we must at least raise the age to be able to purchase one to 21."

The president was speaking following an elementary school shooting in Uvalde, Texas that left 19 children and two teachers dead.

Some conservative commentators contrasted Biden's remarks with the fact his administration has been providing significant military aid to Ukraine, which is resisting a Russian invasion. The contrast sparked a fierce online debate as others pushed back at the suggestion that Biden was behaving hypocritically.

"Astonishing to watch the President of the U.S. call for a ban on semi-automatic rifles for Americans while shipping endless supplies of them to civilians in Ukraine," tweeted conservative commentator Katie Pavlich.

The U.S. has provided semi-automatic weapons to the Ukrainian armed forces, including thousands of AR-15 style rifles. Other conservatives made comments similar to Pavlich's.

"I would accept private ownership of firearms being restricted to whatever we're giving Zelensky," tweeted conservative author Ann Coulter, referring to the Ukrainian president.

Tim Young, a columnist with The Washington Times, wrote: "Biden arms Ukraine because he believes them to be allies. Biden wants to disarm Americans because he believes them to be enemies."

Newsmax host Benny Johnson tweeted: "DEMOCRATS: Arm Ukraine. Disarm Americans."

While comparing Biden's desire for more gun control measures to arming Ukraine became a popular point among conservatives, it was met with significant criticism from other social media users.

Former Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson responded to Pavlich's initial tweet, saying: "What's astonishing is that anyone wouldn't recognize the difference between military use and civilian use."

Many other Twitter users responded to Pavlich by pointing out that Ukraine is at war. Friday marks the 100th day since Russia invaded the country in what it calls a "special military operation."

"Yeah....it's pretty unbelievable that weapons of war would be sent to a war...." said Twitter user Nick Carmody.

Twitter user Monty Boa responded to Pavlich and drew a distinction between civilians' use of weapons and the Ukrainian armed forces.

"If by 'civilians in Ukraine' you meant 'the Ukrainian Armed Forces', who strictly control their use by trained volunteers, then it's not astonishing at all," they said. "That first rookie mistake was bound to mess up the rest of your thinking. If we can call it that."

Another Twitter user, Jon, put their views succinctly: "Ukraine is in the middle of a war. Firearms are more necessary in a war than in a school."

The debate around gun control and Ukraine had been taking place before Biden's speech, however. Former U.S. Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul clashed with journalist Michael Tracey on Thursday after Tracey posted a long thread criticizing McFaul, who had called on AR-15 manufacturers to "stop" and suggesting Americans carry out a non-violent resistance campaign on the issue.

"Would love to see McFaul 'resisting' the very companies that manufacture AR-15 components for the Ukrainian armed forces," Tracey had written.

McFaul responded: "Such a ridiculous argument. Guns sent to Ukraine are used stop an imperial invasion, not slaughter innocent children. Please stop."

Biden recently approved a new aid package for Ukraine worth almost $40 billion. The administration said this week it would provide Ukraine with M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) and the M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS).

Ukrainian Soldiers Practice Shooting
Ukrainian soldiers practice shooting during a field military training on May 20, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. Some conservatives have contrasted President Biden's desire for more gun restrictions to the U.S. arming Ukraine. Oleksii Samsonov/Global Images Ukraine/Getty Images