The vice president of the United States shouldn’t dispense advice that would put anyone taking it behind bars. In his role as President Obama’s top lobbyist for gun control, Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. has been shooting from both hip and lip, promoting the shotgun as the alternative to the sporting rifle.
The shotgun is a great weapon, for self-defense and otherwise, but only when used responsibly. “My shotgun will do better for you than your AR-15,” Cowboy Joe explained in an interview with Field & Stream magazine, “because [if] you want to keep someone away from your house, just fire the shotgun through the door.”
Earlier, at a town hall meeting at the White House, a female reader of Parents magazine asked him whether the administration’s ban on certain firearms and magazines would make law-abiding citizens more vulnerable to criminals.
“If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun,” he shot from his famous lip: “As I told my wife — we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded — I said, ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you, whoever’s coming in is not going to.’ “
Cops are emphatic in urging that no one, not even a frightened wife, do what Cowboy Joe advises. Meaning well is not enough. In the vice president’s home state of Delaware, Sussex County Sheriff Jeff Christopher says the advice “is ill-advised and doesn’t show prudence at all.”
Sheriff Christopher explains the proper response to an evildoer on the way into your house: “First, make sure there is an imminent threat against your life or your family. Second, make sure you have a good, viable target. Be responsible. It could be the FedEx man or the pizza guy on the other side of the door. Then don’t expose yourself or your family to further danger.”
That means Mrs. Biden shouldn’t leave the house, shoot all her ammunition and stand alone outside the house in the dark with an empty shotgun.
The veep has become the nation’s top promoter of shotguns, which are actually used in more homicides than the weapons he wants to ban. The most recent FBI data reveal that shotguns were used in 356 murders in one reporting period, compared to 323 rifles, and only some of those rifles could be classified as an AR-15 style “assault rifle.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, says the rifles her legislation is meant to outlaw are used, on average in one particular year, in 35 out of 8,583 firearm murders.
It’s difficult to credit a politician, even a veep, whose contribution to the public debate is so outlandish. Banning certain categories of firearms based only on their appearance is an emotional response and could actually harm public safety. Violent crime has decreased as sales of AR-15s have risen to a record level. The expiration of the “assault weapon” ban in 2004 made America more safe, not less so.
Just as it would be folly to randomly fire a 12-gauge shotgun when things go bump in the night, it would be perilous indeed to make laws based on those bumps.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times