Biden's gun advice for earthquakes
January 24th, 2013
03:50 PM ET
9 years ago

Biden's gun advice for earthquakes

(CNN) - Assault weapons aren't needed, period. Not even in earthquakes. At least, that's what Vice President Joe Biden says.

Answering critics who say assault weapons would be useful as a last line of defense should a natural disaster result in chaos, Biden gave some advice Thursday in a discussion about gun control during a Google+ Hangout.

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The vice president, known for his colorful, off-the-cuff remarks, said a double-barrel shotgun would be more practical in such a scenario, adding assault weapons are harder to handle for people unfamiliar with the firearms.

"It's harder to use an assault weapon to hit something than it is a shotgun, OK?" he said, as he mimicked holding a gun with both arms. "So if you want to keep people away in an earthquake, buy some shotgun shells."

Biden's comments came the same day Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced her assault weapons ban bill, a piece of legislation with strong support from President Barack Obama. The president and vice president rolled out their own proposals to curb gun violence last week, and Biden will hit the road Friday to take the administration's case before the public in Richmond, Virginia.

Feinstein's measure would stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of more than 100 specialty firearms and certain semi-automatic rifles.

Along with banning assault weapons, the administration and Feinstein also want to install a 10-round limit for magazines.

"I'm much less concerned quite frankly about what you'd call an assault weapon than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can be held," Biden said.

One participant in the web discussion–who had initially asked the question about earthquakes–also followed up by asking whether a magazine cap would actually have an impact in a scenario such as the mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

Biden said that gunman, who had 30-round magazines, had to swap out "four or five times." If limited to 10 rounds, however, the vice president argued the gunman would have had to swap out 25 or 30 times.

"And so what would happen is the response time, in fact, may have saved one kid's life. Maybe if it took longer, maybe one more kid would be alive," Biden said.

He also pointed to the gunmen in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting and the Tucson, Arizona shooting, both of whom had to pause because their magazines either ran out or jammed.

When pressed on whether he expects an assault weapons ban or magazine limit to actually reduce crime, Biden said he's "not making the argument that this will end crime."

"I'm making the argument this way: There's no sporting need that I'm aware of that has a magazine that holds 50 rounds. None that I'm aware of. And I'm a sportsman."

Filed under: Gun rights • Joe Biden
soundoff (487 Responses)
  1. blake

    Am not interested in your advice Mr. Biden. You are far left and a m0r0n.

    January 24, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  2. Rick

    The AR-15 is known to be a jam-prone weapon. Its a terrible gun unless it is meticulously maintained. Its good for home defense as long as you don't mind accidentally killing a relative, a neighbor or a guy down the street accidentally when your bullets go through your walls.

    January 24, 2013 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  3. lawdog1521

    When the New Orleans police department was killing evacuees on the Danziger bridge, Joe, an assault rifle may have helped.

    January 24, 2013 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  4. Quick Magazine Changer

    Biden demonstrates his complete lack of knowledge about firearms. I owned an AR-15 rifle, and I now own several .45 caliber semi-automatic handguns. I sold the AR-15 because I was moving to CA, where they are already illegal (short of going through a horrendous licensing process). But I still have all of my .45 caliber handguns, which are perfectly legal in CA (and only have 10 round magazines).

    Here's the fun fact: because of the size and bulkiness of my AR-15's 30 round magazines, it took me easily 3-4 times as long to change them out in my rifle than it does for me to change out my .45 caliber magazines in my handgun. Literally, I can change the .45 magazines in about 1 second (or less), whereas it took me easily 2-3 seconds to change out my AR-15 30 round magazines.

    Why does this matter? Should be obvious: if I have a magazine holder belt with 30 loaded .45 caliber magazines, I will be able to do just as much damage as if I had a magazine belt holder with 10 loaded AR-15 magazines. Taking the magazine changing times into account, the outcome is literally even. Frankly, I might be able to do more damage because of the small size and maneuverability of the handgun vs. the rifle.

    The assault weapons ban is a canard in the most classic sense of the liberal Democrats: give up your freedoms and we'll give you safety. We'll protect you. You'll be safe. These tragedies won't happen. No more children will die. No more psychos will commit senseless acts of violence.

    It's a lie. You may be scared, but ask yourself if you REALLY think the ban will make you more safe......or if it will just make you FEEL more safe. Big difference.

    January 24, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  5. scarf


    It was actually a shotgun that did most of the damage in that movie theater, The AR jammed after only a few shots.
    You realize that you're making Biden's point for him, right?

    January 24, 2013 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  6. lawdog1521

    Apparently Vice President Biden went to the Elmer Fudd Survival school.

    January 24, 2013 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  7. So....

    I'll be safe with my shotgun when the gang of criminal looters with the automatics show up then, eh Biden?

    January 24, 2013 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  8. Paul

    Sigh. Joe, Joe, Joe...listen buddy, we all know you have a shotgun, and of course "if all you've got is a hammer, then everything looks like a nail."

    But answer me this...if a shotgun is such a great weapon to use in a EOTW setting, why aren't you talking about banning them? How is it that an "assault rifle" is so lethal in one setting but so hard to wield in another?

    Personally, I agree that it's less about the weapon than the magazine. But the problem is that it takes just a couple of seconds to switch out a magazine, and nobody is going to be rushing the guy at that point (probably)...COULD it help? Yeah, potentially, but let's be realistic about it.

    In any case, Joe, a double-barreled shotgun is the LAST thing I'd want to have in a setting like that. Seriously? Two shots and then you crack it open to reload? If anything, an 870 Police or a Mossberg pump action would be the thing...if I HAD to use a shotgun.

    By the way, Joe, a lot of woman would find an AR-15 easier to handle and wield than a shotgun...shotguns are heavy. Try thinking about people other than about it? 🙂

    January 24, 2013 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  9. w lance

    I have both an AR15 and a 12 gauge shotgun. If i ever need one for defence give me the shotgun. 1 round of 00 buckshot has 9 pellets that are larger than the lead bullet of the AR. Shooting slugs in the shotgun will penetrate most walls in a home or doors in a car. Banning high capacity mags will not work either. There are millions on the street now owned by law abiding people.
    All the gun control in the world will not stop the evil in this world. But a weapon in the hands of an honest man will slow evil down. Criminals do not obey laws.

    January 24, 2013 05:43 pm at 5:43 pm |
  10. Jim A

    I like CNN's personal bias in favor of Biden by stating "The vice president, known for his colorful, off-the-cuff remarks..." whereas if it was a Republican it would be less than complimentary.

    January 24, 2013 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. KommonSense

    Man I'm glad I have my 30 round magazine for when the government goes rogue and I need to defend myself against the largest, best trained and best equipped military on the face of the planet.

    January 24, 2013 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  12. TiSentinel65

    How Biden actually gets to frame this arguement is beyond comprehension to me. They absolutely know very little about guns or the legislation they write to regulate them. A shotgun would only be better if you were using it in close to anybody you were trying to protect yourself from. High powereed rifles have the distinct advantage of range and accuracy over a shotgun which lacks both. The reason they want to do away with semi automatics is this. They know they have screwed our country up so badly that they are scared of an armed uprising from the very people that they have sworn to serve. The economy is much worse then they want you to believe. We are sixteen trillion in debt and rising. The american worker has lost purchasing power. Wages in terms of inflation are less. The dollar is losing value and high inflation is around the corner. Congress continues to pass laws that are fine and dandy for everybody else, but continue to vote exemptions for themselves. We have stop and frisk with out probable cause in NY city. We have lost rights due to the patriot act. Your E-mails are an open book to agencies like the CIA and FBI. The list goes on and on. The government is scared because they built a powder keg and have decided they like playing with fire. Look to the Middle East and see what happens when government acts in its own interest rather than the people. Government rights should never trump individual rights. Only when the government respects individual rights can a people be truly free.

    January 24, 2013 05:58 pm at 5:58 pm |
  13. Red Dog

    I think one would be better protected with a pistol gripped 870 Express 12 gauge shotgun with a 18" improved cylinder barrel and a 3 round mag tube extension loaded with 3" magnum double aught buck than a double barrel shotgun. And the best part is that the 870 is legal with those modifications because it's a pump shotgun and not a semi-auto and not subjected to their stupid "assault weapon" ban. But, to each his own.

    January 24, 2013 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  14. Dave Noonan

    Yeah, I used to take 300m shots with a shotgun ALL the time when I was in the Army... (rolls eyes)

    January 24, 2013 06:01 pm at 6:01 pm |
  15. Tumbleweed

    There he goes again. This time it's not "you don't need an AR-15 for hunting or sporting purposes," now it's "you don't need a semi-automatic rifle to defend yourself after a disaster."

    WELL, MR. VICE PRESIDENT, we in the West and in the South don't want semi-automatic rifles to defend ourselves from Zombies or to hunt deer with; we want them to defend ourselves from tyrants who would take our civil rights from us by force once it becomes impossible to defend ourselves from well-armed troops. Gee, when are they going to be honest about this? They know this is really the issue, but won't even hint at it. At least Hubert Humphrey was honest enough to mention it:

    "Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms ... The right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard, against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible."
     Hubert H. Humphrey, Senator, Vice President, 22 October 1959

    January 24, 2013 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. TomGI

    Shotgun was Dick Cheney's weapon of choice for shooting people

    January 24, 2013 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. Kommon Sense

    I am sure that you come from a culture with no sense of family, however, the military that I serve is made up of members of family and friends that would not obey an order that turned it against its own people. Besides, the US military sucks at Guerilla warfare.

    January 24, 2013 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  18. Kris

    That genius could be the next President. I told my husband we need one more AR-15 just because the one we have is so fun to shoot and it annoys liberals. We have a rack full of shotguns and we need some diversity. Revolvers along with coach & pump shotguns are the best home defense weapons.

    January 24, 2013 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  19. CallingBS

    Man I'm glad I have my 30 round magazine for when the government goes rogue and I need to defend myself against the largest, best trained and best equipped military on the face of the planet."

    Fat lot of good it's gonna do you if you are't trained as'd be just another ammo pick-up point.

    January 24, 2013 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  20. JB McMunn

    For a guy who uses shotguns Bidden is rather ignorant. A double barrel shotgun gives you two shots before you have reload. And you have to aim a shotgun. It's not like in the movies where it kills everything in a 180 degree arc. At home defense distances the column of shot is only a few inches wide.

    January 24, 2013 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  21. CallingBS

    "Quick Magazine Changer
    The assault weapons ban is a canard in the most classic sense of the liberal Democrats: give up your freedoms and we'll give you safety. We'll protect you. You'll be safe. These tragedies won't happen. No more children will die. No more psychos will commit senseless acts of violence.

    It's a lie. You may be scared, but ask yourself if you REALLY think the ban will make you more safe......or if it will just make you FEEL more safe. Big difference."

    ame can be said about Homeland Security" Everyone was told to be afraid after 9/11 Bush, Chaney and Runsfeld took advantage of that and stole our rights. Then lied us into TWO wars and NOTHING has been done to them for either. Yet now we must contend with wire taps on citizens, warrantless searches, and next thing coming to a city near you drones flying in American cities. And all you folks are worried about is 2nd Amendment...well alrighty then.

    January 24, 2013 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  22. RCPilot

    Apparently he can't count. 5 30 round magazines 150 rounds. 25-30 10 round magazines, 250-300 rounds. I guess 25-30 sounds better than 15 magazine changes.

    January 24, 2013 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  23. Jason

    But why? We need to be able to spew out 10 rounds per second because what if zombies show up or worse even worse, the big bad government? Because only with my precious assault rifles, will I be able to stop 2 million of the best trained and equipped soldiers on the face of this planet not to mention their impervious to small arms fire armored vehicles.

    January 24, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  24. I don't get it

    @quick magazine changer: I am afraid that was one of the worst defense of the AR 15 ever posted. It is obvious that you want to make a point but you have no real experience, because anyone who has fired a .45 caliber knows that you could not pull off what you are claiming. The AR-15 allows you to "blanket spray" and area, where as a .45 needs to be aimed more accurately. It is my belief that you made up a story someone told you and tried making it sound like it was you.

    January 24, 2013 06:31 pm at 6:31 pm |
  25. john

    "Blake" above is out of line calling am man who has achieved what Biden has in life a bad name. "Blake" should be sent to Guantanamo Bay. Furthermore, Biden is 100% correct. The Remington 870 with a short barrel and extended magazine is the perfect home defense weapon, if you actually feel you need one.

    "Quick Magazine Changer" above, proud of you! You should probably keep that info to yourself though, they will be after handguns next.

    January 24, 2013 06:34 pm at 6:34 pm |
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