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Did Joe Biden threaten to nuke America? Internet says ‘only tyrants see citizens as threats’

Social media blows up with #HandsUpDoNotNuke after POTUS' speech on gun control, where he says F-15s and nukes needed 'to take on the government'
UPDATED JUN 24, 2021
President Joe Biden stirred social media after his comment on nuclear weapons was misunderstood (Alex Wong/Getty Images/ Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden stirred social media after his comment on nuclear weapons was misunderstood (Alex Wong/Getty Images/ Keystone/Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

President Joe Biden sparked concern about nuking Americans following his June 23 speech on tackling violent crime. Speaking at the White House, Biden slammed the surge in gun violence and announced reforms targeting gun dealers, which clearly did not go down well with Republicans. 

Gun violence has sharply risen in 2021, as pandemic restrictions are easing and more Americans are out on the streets. Democrats have attempted to control the crime spree in numerous ways, but with little bipartisan support. In May, the Texas state government legalized permitless carry, becoming the 21st state to do so. Then in June, Judge Roger Benitez overturned California's 32-year ban on assault weapons. Before that, a Boulder judge blocked the city's assault weapon ban in March, despite one being used in the horrific mass shooting at a supermarket in the city.


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In his latest plan to counter the increasing violence, the president announced a sweeping set of reforms and called illegal dealers "merchants of death". However, that wasn't what got social media worked up. Instead, an obscure reference to nuclear weapons was what most people focused on. 

U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the national economy in the State Dining Room at the White House on February 05, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Stefani Reynolds-Pool/Getty Images)

Did Biden threaten America?

The worries stem from a line the president used during his speech. "Those who say the blood of patriots y'know and all the stuff about how we're going to have to move against the government. Well the tree of liberty is not watered with the blood of patriots," Biden said during the speech. "What's happened is, that there never been, if you wanted... you think you need to have weapons to take on the government, you need F-15s and maybe some nuclear weapons," he continued. Biden was using to explain that there was a limit on the kind of weapons Americans could own. "The Second Amendment, from the day it was passed, limited the type of people that could own a gun, and what type of weapon you could own" he said before making the nuke comment. 


Essentially, the president said people would need nukes and F-15s to take on the American government, referring to the January 6 insurrection. During the siege on Capitol Hill, pro-Trump protesters stormed the building with an array of weapons from baseball bats to pepper spray, and stun guns to crowbars. At least 3 rioters have also been charged for carrying firearms. They were, however, beaten back by police forces, before the National Guard was called in. 

The president did not in any way threaten to, or announce plans to nuke American citizens. He was simply trolling the insurrectionists. However, the nuance of that line seems to have been lost on many social media users, who quickly flooded Twitter with messages saying he did. Shortly after Biden's speech, the hashtag #HandsUpDontNuke began trending on social media, with many users slamming Biden for "threatening America". It appears as if a large number of those are Trump supporters, who are using the hashtag to defend the January 6 insurrection and slam Biden. 

Trump supporters clash with police and security forces as people try to storm the US Capitol on January 6, 2021 in Washington, DC. (Brent Stirton/Getty Images)

'Jan 6 was peaceful' 

"Get this trending! #HandsUpDontNuke," one person tweeted along with a poster. Another said, "Our ever unifying @POTUS reminded us today that he could nuke his own citizens at any moment. I wonder if he will be banned from all social media platforms?" One user tweeted, "After 4 years of “Trump is dictator” Biden is threatening to nuke his own people." Another claimed, "Only tyrants see citizens as threats.'





Tim Young also weighed in, tweeting, "Sure, China, Russia and Iran are bad... but none of their leaders ever literally threatened to nuke their citizens like Biden did today." Another person tweeted, "We have now reached a point where we have to say #HandsUpDontNuke to the president that was supposed to defund the police."



Some people also used the hashtag to continue spreading the Republican lies about January 6. "January 6th was a peaceful protest. #HandsUpDontNuke," tweeted one person. Another referred to Trump's recurring lie that Biden has "handlers" and tweeted, "I'm confident that Joe didn't really mean to say that nukes were on the table when dealing with U.S. citizens. That's just something he overheard his handlers talking about and he accidentally repeated it."



The Biden administration is yet to issue a comment or clarification on the matter. If you watch the whole video, you can clearly see Biden does not threaten to use nukes on Americans. He is simply using nuclear weapons as an example to show that limitations on gun rights exist, and take a subtle dig at the January 6 insurrection.