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. WillB

    Take a good look at the photo of Biden. Only an absolute incompetent holds their thumb up like that and pulls a trigger. Now, in Biden's case, he might not get that thumb in his eye, it might just go up his nose.

    January 25, 2013 08:31 am at 8:31 am |
  2. Clarke

    Who is right, who is wrong on this issue? I have no clue, but I would hope common sense and logic would win. Yes, iam expecting more than I should.

    January 25, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  3. Adam

    Unless the shotgun has a pistol grip, then under the new regulations they want to pass it becomes an Assault Rifle. I guess Biden forgot about that.

    January 25, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  4. harry

    I long for the day when they will beat their swords into plowshares.
    and no more guns

    January 25, 2013 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  5. Groovy

    The fastest growing shooting sports (IDPA, IPSC, USPSA, 3-Gun) use such firearms. These events offer people of various skill levels to come together to learn and compete. Most of these events are imaginative scenarios requiring the participant to think and move effectively to complete the stage. They provide a safe environment allowing citizens to become more familiar and more proficient in the safe use of their firearm. Lessons learned by civilians from these events have provided vital tips, tricks, and techniques to help improve police and military training.

    January 25, 2013 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  6. Hot Carl

    What about a woman who can't handle the recoil of a shotgun? Even a 20 ga has a kick to it. A .223/5.56 has little more kick than a good air rifle. Biden's argument about mag capacity is bogus. By the time cops get there, those kids would all still be dead. What does he think, the cops use teleporters and get there immediately? Dolt. He's a wannabe sportsman at best.

    January 25, 2013 08:37 am at 8:37 am |
  7. Sean

    So where is the line drawn? Everyone's saying "if we ban assault rifles and large magazines at least we save a few more lives." Next it will be "If we ban semi-auto hand guns at least it will save a few more lives." "If we ban revolvers at least it will save a few more lives."

    It's not all about our right to guns, it's also about a slippery slope.

    And why haven't I seen anyone ask HOW this ban is to be implemented? Obviously the honor system wouldn't work. They haven't the manpower nor the budget (nor the stupidity, I hope) to go door to door collecting guns (not to mention the countless lives lost trying something like that.) They could try deputizing people, because Lord knows everyone's honest. If the last census taught us anything, it was that. So, what? Declare martial law? No, our military won't go against us, but what about NATO?

    It sounds crazy until you actuall follow all of this stuff to its logical conclusion.

    January 25, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  8. Anonymous

    Let's see, a double barrel shotgun holds 2 rounds, an AR holds 30. I'll go ahead and use my AR. Oh and to the guy that says he'd rather have his 30-06 or 30-30 than "the little bullets"...what about ARs that shoot .308? Yeah, those are fun.

    January 25, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  9. Jeff

    "known for his colorful, off-the-cuff remarks," yeah because he is a Democrat, if he was a Republican he would be "an idiot and stupid". So Joe just admitted that a shotgun is more lethal than an assault rifle since its easier to shoot someone with it. This is why these bans are all BS.

    January 25, 2013 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  10. Wilson

    The "assault weapons" ban is just the beginning. It gets the liberal foot in the door for removing all weapons. If this passes you can look for more and greater restrictions on owning weapons. Until no one is allowed to own any at all.

    January 25, 2013 08:41 am at 8:41 am |
  11. PaulG

    Biden looks like an idiot in his little propaganda piece. When they come up with viable solution to our nation's gun violence problem I'll listen. Bans and magazine restriction won't prevent the next tragedy and they know it.

    January 25, 2013 08:43 am at 8:43 am |
  12. jon

    Good luck using a shotgun to fight off a tyrannical government.

    January 25, 2013 08:44 am at 8:44 am |
  13. Raherbboating

    Maybe we should make a law banning dumb politicians.

    January 25, 2013 08:45 am at 8:45 am |
  14. Malory Archer


    I am saddened by people "who say assault weapons would be useful as a last line of defense should a natural disaster result in chaos". I would be much happier to hear about people who talk about helping their neighbors instead of a need to shoot them.


    They don't need the weapons to defend themselves in the event of a natural disaster – they need them to shoot their neighbors in order to loot their belongings.

    January 25, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  15. dr1776

    If somebodies got your kid you'll have a hard time taking an accurate shot with a shotgun.

    January 25, 2013 08:49 am at 8:49 am |
  16. Kevin

    Math is apparently not one of Biden's skills.

    January 25, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  17. Allen Iverson

    After reading the crazy comments made by 2nd Amnd fundamentalists and Sandy Hook truthers I suggest they can only be allowed to own a BB gun if they can pass a psychology test.

    January 25, 2013 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
  18. Mr Friendly

    Good point about woman finding it much easier to use and AR-15 vs a shotgun, but this also applies to men as well. My son has both a 12 gauge shot gun and AR-15. I can tell you my wife could not handle the shotgun at all, whereas she was shooting the AR rifle all day long with ease. Even for myself, I am a 230lb man with physical disabilities and I cannot shoot that shotgun, it has way too much power for me to handle, Every time I shot it it felt like my spine was going to snap and I was practically punching myself in the face from the recoil. I was also able to shoot the AR as long as I felt like it. The recoil from the AR is practically non existent, any man or woman can shoot an AR 15 quite comfortably all day long.

    I would like to add, My son does hunt wild hogs, deer and coyote's with his AR15. The idea that you can't or that people don't hunt with an AR15 is an outright lie. According to my son, he and many of his hunting buddies use the AR15's quite often.

    January 25, 2013 08:51 am at 8:51 am |
  19. twal

    So according to Biden if the Newtown shooter had been restricted to 10 round magazines he would have fired twice as many shot's ?
    "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."
    Last time I checked 5 x 30 = 150 , 10 x 25 (30) = 250 (300).
    By this math I would be pushing for a ban on 10 round magazines, apparently 30 round magazines potenially could "save lives"

    January 25, 2013 08:55 am at 8:55 am |
  20. Jethro


    Have you ever seen an armed animal? Unless you're a vegan, I don't want to hear any more from you about hunting. I hunt, I eat what I shoot, and it's no more inhumane than the ground beef that you buy at the supermarket that was raised and killed in a small pen somewhere on the plains. In fact, I would argue that animals taken while hunting have much more gratifying lives than those raised domestically. Just some food for thought 😉

    January 25, 2013 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  21. Mike

    Go ahead Biden. Let's see you drop a charging grizzly bear, mountain lion or pack of wolves with a double barrel shotgun. Clueless as usual.

    January 25, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  22. NameWendy

    Maybe a cap on magazines would help with spontaneous acts of violence, but unless higher capacity magazines are completely wiped off the face of the earth, I fail to see how this ban would help in cases where an individual extensively plans to cause maximum damage. Criminals, and those planning a terrible act of violence, would still find a way to get what they need, or to find an alternate way to accomplish their goal. Taking away the instrument of violence doesn't ensure violence won't occur- it just changes the instrument or method of the violent act. The changes need to occur on a more personal, individual level: the family level. We need to be taking measures to promote the importance of the family, to ensure that parents are able to focus more attention on their children, and that mentally ill individuals are receiving proper medication and therapy. In this regard I speak from absolute experience. My husband and I would probably not be able to function as productive members of society without consistent, determined effort on our part to stay medicated and attend therapy, and more broadly, on the continual support of family, friends, and caring healthcare providers. We are now struggling to instill this sense of personal accountability in our elder son, who also struggles with mental/emotional disorders. As his parents, we are responsible for him while he is a minor, but ultimately we are responsible for taking the time and effort to make sure he can function and make good choices in his own when he leaves our home and makes a life for himself.

    January 25, 2013 09:00 am at 9:00 am |
  23. Re: Sage

    You're wrong. I never had an AR15 jam in 6 years as an MP or 15 years as a police officer. The shotgun was the worse gun the police ever had. Slow, jammed all the time, not effected past 15-20 yards. The AR15 was the best self defense weapon ever provided to us on patrol.

    January 25, 2013 09:08 am at 9:08 am |
  24. tv22

    I wonder if Joe realizes that a shotgun will a) can knock over a smaller person who isn't prepared, b) will likely cause collateral damage to anyone within a 20 foot radius, and c) isn't good past a relatively limited distance. Meanwhile, a lightweight, small caliber weapon like a so-called "assault" rifle, would be easier to fire and would likely hit what you are shooting at and not everyone around that thing.

    January 25, 2013 09:10 am at 9:10 am |
  25. rbnlegend

    We clearly need to take some people to the range. A shotgun does require you to aim. A shotgun will not kill five people with a single shot. That's not even hollywood, that's out past comic books. At "inside the house" type ranges, your shotgun pellets spread out to a pattern a few inches wide, maybe a foot if you have a big room. Yes, that covers more space than the .22 inches of an AR-15, but you still have to aim. It's not a magic wand. And it's longer, harder to manuver inside the home, harder to get the gun on target. If it's someone who has used the gun enough to be familiar with it, but not a skilled user, they will also have fear of the weapon working against them. They know that if they pull the trigger, the gun is going to kick them in the shoulder and it's going to hurt. They will hesitate, they will flinch, they will close their eyes, all of which means, they will likely miss. And if they have Joe's double barrell, they are out of ammo, and they have communicated very clearly to the person they are shooting at that it's life or death and even if the bad guy was unsure about killing them before, he will after being shot at.

    If what Joe says is accurate (it's not), then we should be banning shotguns, and encouraging the use of semi-automatic rifles that look like military weapons.

    They can go ahead and ban 30 round magazines. The 3d printer industry will enjoy the boost in sales.

    one last thing. Has Fienstein stopped carrying a concealed weapon? For a long time, the loudest voice for gun control was also the only person in her county with a license to carry a concealed weapon. That should tell you something, if you care to listen.

    January 25, 2013 09:11 am at 9:11 am |
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