Joe Biden promotes shotguns for self-defense. Is he off base? (+video)(Read article summary)
Vice President Joe Biden told a questioner on a Facebook chat that a shotgun works as well as a semi-automatic weapon for self-defense. The comment is not wrong, but it's curious.
Joe Biden is getting a lot of attention today for suggesting that homeowners interested in protecting themselves with firearms buy a shotgun instead of a semi-automatic assault rifle. Was his comment off base?
Gun-control advocates arenât happy that the vice president of the US â whoâs supposed to be pushing the administrationâs gun plan â wandered off the reservation and appeared to back ammo-based home defense. Gun-rights people charge that Mr. Biden is offering an uninformed choice that smacks of government intervention.
How did this all start? During an online Facebook town-hall forum hosted by Parents Magazine, VP Biden fielded a question from âKateâ to the effect that if assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are banned, will âlaw abiding citizens ... then become more of a target to criminals?â
Biden was already off-put, since the previous question had focused on drug legalization. Perhaps the forum administrators werenât filtering reader submissions in quite the manner heâd expected?
âIs this Parents Magazine?... I have Parents Magazine in my home, Iâve never heard anybody in Parents Magazine ask these kinds of questions, but Iâm delighted to answer them,â said the VP, according to a transcript of the event.
Then he launched into his shotgun spiel. âKate, if you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun,â he said.
Then Biden added that he and his wife, Jill, live in a wooded area, and heâs told her that if thereâs ever a problem to walk outside, put their double-barreled shotgun on the balcony, and fire off two blasts.
âI promise you: Whoeverâs coming in is not going to â you donât need an AR-15 [assault rifle]. Itâs harder to aim, itâs harder to use, and in fact you donât need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun.â
Look, Biden has previously talked about his gun ownership â heâs got a double-barreled shotgun and a Beretta handgun, he says. What heâs trying to do here is make the obvious point that you donât have to a military-style assault rifle with a 30-shot magazine to defend yourself, if thatâs what you want. Other firearms would be just as effective.
Somebody once said that the sound of a pump shotgun being loaded is one of the scariest things a criminal can hear. Of course, Biden didnât mention pump action â a double-barrel is a different kind of weapon. But gun discussion forums are full of talk about shotguns and their effective use in home defense. In that sense Bidenâs comment perhaps wasnât too far off-base.
And even some conservatives felt that the shotgun answer at least blunted the conspiracy theory that the Obama administration is intent on rounding up the nationâs private firearms.
âAs goofy as it is, I think this is actually kinda sorta effective at blunting the âgun-grabbingâ critique liberals naturally face whenever they get itchy about âassault weaponsâ, writes the commentator Allahpundit at the conservative Hot Air website.
But others on the right leaped on Bidenâs comments. Are shotguns easier to use than assault weapons? Not necessarily, as the physical characteristics of both sorts of weapons can vary tremendously. Plus, has Biden really schooled his wife with shotgun tips? His house in D.C. is indeed in a wooded area â the grounds of the US Naval Observatory â but itâs also surrounded by high-level security fences and other devices and guarded by lots of Secret Service personnel who presumably have access to actual fully automatic assault rifles. Heâs got a house in Delaware thatâs not US government property, but at the moment thatâs surrounded by Secret Service, too.
And whatâs with Bidenâs advice to his wife to âfire two blasts outside the houseâ if bad guys appear? As many critics noted, you fire a double-barrel shotgun twice, and itâs ... empty.
âTypically, homeowners buy pump shotguns that hold at least three shells and can hold more. Double-barreled shotguns are usually far more expensive and are used in fancy bird hunts,â adds Mr. Bedard.