Biden plans to fight as gun provisions struggle in Senate
March 20th, 2013
09:04 PM ET
10 years ago

Biden plans to fight as gun provisions struggle in Senate

(CNN) – With Congress grappling over gun legislation, Vice President Joe Biden vowed to continue fighting for a ban on semi-automatic firearms modeled after military assault weapons, despite its bleak future on Capitol Hill.

"I am still pushing that it pass," Biden said Wednesday on NPR. "We are still pushing that it pass."

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His words echoed similar refrains made by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who spearheaded the assault weapons ban in this Congress. The California Democrat pledged not to "lay down and play dead" amid calls to keep the ban out of a larger gun package.

The ban, categorically opposed by the National Rifle Association, would get fewer than 40 votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday, far below the threshold needed to defeat a filibuster or pass the Senate.

Instead, Feinstein could propose the ban as an amendment to the gun legislation on the Senate floor in order to get a vote on it, Reid said.

"The same thing was told to me when the first assault weapons ban in 1994 was attached to the Biden crime bill," Biden said. "That it couldn't possibly pass. It was declared dead several times."

The bill eventually passed and remained law until 2004, when it expired. Feinstein was also a key player in that legislation.

In the wake of the Newtown elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama and Biden made a series of proposals to combat gun violence, including an assault weapons ban and a limit to ammunition feeding devices.

"Attitudes are changing and I think the president and I are going to continue to push and we haven't given up on it," Biden said Wednesday.

The vice president will appear at an event Thursday in New York with Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newtown families in an attempt to push new federal gun laws, as debate nears in the Senate and some key provisions struggle for support.

The most likely of all proposals floated in Washington seems to be an expanded background check system that covers all transactions, including private sales at gun shows. A Senate committee approved the measure last week, and it now goes to the full Senate for consideration.

Critics of the assault weapons ban point to the fact that a vast majority of gun deaths are a result of handguns. They question whether banning semi-automatic firearms would solve the problem.

"No, you are not fixing the problem," Biden said. "That is like saying, does it make any sense to ban cigarette smoking while you still have global warming going on? C'mon. Does that fix the environmental problem? No. But it saves some people's lives."

As for limits to high capacity magazines, Biden took issue with those who say limiting the number of rounds to a magazine places large burdens on gun owners.

"What is the downside of saying you can have clips with only 10 rounds in it? What does that violate? Hunting? Sportsmanship? If you need more than 10 rounds to hunt, and some argue they hunt with that many rounds, you shouldn't be hunting," he said.

"If you can't get the deer in three shots, you shouldn't be hunting. You are an embarrassment."
If the only measure that comes out of the Senate is an expanded background check law, Biden said that would still be "gigantic."

The NRA opposed the background check measure from the Brady legislation in '94, Biden said, but it ultimately worked.

"They said felons will never go and get a background check to buy a gun," the vice president said. "Two million felons have tried to buy a gun, and because of the background check have been denied."

He also pushed back against arguments that an expanded background check system would lead to a registry, a system Biden said he was not interested in.

"When you go to registration, it raises all the black helicopter crowd notion that what this is all about is identifying who has a gun so that one day the government can get up and go to the house and arrest everyone who has a gun, and they'll cite Nazi Germany and all that," he said.

- CNN's Steve Brusk and Tom Cohen contributed to this report.

Filed under: Dianne Feinstein • Gun control • Gun rights • Joe Biden
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. Ancient Texan

    Joe wouldn't know an "assault weapon" if he tripped over one. He does recall hearing the term...shotgun, but thinks that would be an effective weapon against a home invasion with multiple participants... Joe ain't very savvy.

    March 20, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  2. Gurgyl

    This nation needs gun-ban laws.

    March 20, 2013 09:12 pm at 9:12 pm |
  3. Charlie kilo

    Why the constant references to hunting?

    Its has nothing to do with hunting deers, ducks or bears.

    In the days when our rights were granted the assault weapon of the day was a flint lock and if they could have chambered up 30 rounds they would have.

    As the time and technology changes, so must our arms. I wonder if I can get my own drone now? Can you imagine? Then senators are just wasting time.. Imagine what they could be doing?

    March 20, 2013 09:40 pm at 9:40 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    If the ability to prosecute those criminals found with weapons, that would make it easier to get the illegal weapons off the street. What makes it so hard to make those kind of charges to stick? Can anyone spell that out?

    March 20, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  5. cbp

    Good for Joe Biden. Obviously others in Congress have not backbones. They cave in so fast. Harry Reid has done lived up to one of his campaign promises. It si time to have a Majority Leader who is willing to fight for us for a change.

    March 20, 2013 09:56 pm at 9:56 pm |
  6. ignatius ibsage

    the mass killings in newtown should not be totally surprising. we live in a culture that glorifies violence in our mass media and entertainment. we live in society that ignores the demise of the family unit and encourages killing the unborn. we live in a society that tolerates, condones and encourages sexual depravity and mind altering drug consumption. we live in a society with relativistic conflicting moral values that has lost its moral compass.

    we also live in a society that in many locations like new york, new jersey and connecticut prohibit lawbiding citizens from using the means to defend themselves. this violence took place in a state with the most restricitive gun laws in the nation. had the citizens of connecticut had the right to concealed carry this mass murder would most likely not have happened. you don't disarm the lawbiding to make them helpless victims to the psychopaths, regressive criminals and the mentally deranged.

    March 20, 2013 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  7. Dennis

    "Two million felons have tried to buy a gun, and because of the background check have been denied."

    And how many have the ATF chosen to attempt to prosecute? Less than 100, Mr. Vice President?

    Without a national gun registry, the law cannot be enforced, cannot detect straw sales. With a gun registry, the law is dead on arrival. That means the background check is nothing more than political theater, much ado about nothing. An attempt to say you tried to do something, but when you know that "something" would have had no real effect on anyone except law-abiding citizens.

    Straw buyers would still buy guns and still sell to criminals, and the proposed law would not catch them unless the buyer specified who they were – which is exactly the situation we're in today. It accomplishes literally nothing.

    March 20, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  8. Name

    If they would work as hard as they did trying to ban stuff...on getting our country to a point where 40cent out of every dollar isn't coming from china

    March 20, 2013 11:27 pm at 11:27 pm |
  9. G tech

    Mental Health is the common factor in these mass shootings. Address the real issues. Firearms are not the problem.

    March 20, 2013 11:58 pm at 11:58 pm |
  10. Larry L

    The second admendment does not define the arms citizens are allowed to own. It was written before the framers could have possibly envisioned the advances in technology nor the degraded state of our capability to perform evil acts with weapons.

    A real law might read "It is illegal to posess any firearms manufactured in or imported into the United States after 1 Jan 2014 with the capability to contain or sequentially fire more than ten rounds of ammuntion. It is also illegal to posess any weapons manufactured in or imported to the United States after 1 Jan 2014 capable of reloading with pre-loaded clips, speed-loaders, pre-loaded tubes, disposable cartridge-holders, magazines or any other devices designed to facilitate the speed of loading to levels beyond that normally achieved by singly-loading rounds into the weapon. This law includes all centerfire rifles, centerfire pistols, shotguns and other weapons with projectiles propelled by air, explosive gases, or electrical, mechanical, or inertia-driven devices. This law specifically excludes rimfire weapons of the same characteristics for trajectory, bullet weight, and ballistics characteristics as rimfire weapons at the time of this law. All existing weapons manufactured or imported legally before 1 Jan 2014 remain legal and allowed to be sold, traded, or otherwise exchanged. However, all sale, trading, or exchange of weapons, regardless of their date of manufacturing or importation require the background check administered by a FFL holder IAW the laws associated with that license and the weapon's classification. In addition to the FFL background checks each weapon would be registered by serial number (if required by law), date of transfer, and modifications (if any) since the last transfer."

    Semantics about "assault weapons etc. would be meaningless if the laws were written in this way.

    March 21, 2013 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  11. WouldYouLookAtThat

    "What is the downside of saying you can have clips with only 10 rounds in it? What does that violate? Hunting? Sportsmanship? If you need more than 10 rounds to hunt, and some argue they hunt with that many rounds, you shouldn't be hunting," – YOU DON'T GET TO DETERMINE THE "NEEDS" OF THE PEOPLE OF A 'FREE' COUNTRY!

    March 21, 2013 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  12. WouldYouLookAtThat

    "No, you are not fixing the problem," Biden said. "That is like saying, does it make any sense to ban cigarette smoking while you still have global warming going on? C'mon. Does that fix the environmental problem? No. But it saves some people's lives." – Ban the privilege of smoking before you dare attempt to strip the 2nd amendment!

    March 21, 2013 12:41 am at 12:41 am |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    Shamw on Harry Reid, he is personally biased anyway. However you know what he should have let the bill come to the floor. I have a simple reason for that i want to know exactly who votes against it and why. Then come next election I can throw them out with cause.
    Lapierre does not listen to his NRA members because its the gun lobby and makers that are his major funders. Only 2 candidates The NRA supported won agaonst gun law advocates

    March 21, 2013 12:46 am at 12:46 am |
  14. Beefburger

    Ol' Shotgun Joe just doesn't understand that the Bill of Rights are protections afforded to THE PEOPLE. How many times do we have to reitterate that it is NOT ABOUT HUNTING. It is about the People of the United States having the right to bear arms to protect themselves in the event of a tyranical government.

    March 21, 2013 02:16 am at 2:16 am |
  15. Nick

    Joe should have been a rocket scientist. Reid doesn't and won't have the votes. Plus, even the anti-gun establishment acknowledges that weapons bans DON'T WORK. So Joe, instead of wasting more time and taxpayer money why don't you do something smart for a change and focus on a real problem – like the budget and deficit – instead of trying to strip away even more of our freedoms?

    March 21, 2013 06:55 am at 6:55 am |
  16. 82ndABNVET

    Ok........first off VP Biden, they are MAGAZINES and not CLIPS.

    Second, if you still want to push through an "assault weapons ban" that already cannot get the 60 votes required to send to the House, why not just push a bigger, and more strict piece of legislation banning all weapons? I mean if pushing a bill that will be dead on arrival anyway, why not put on the big boy pants and go all the way? At least then the American citizenry will see exactly what you want to do (take all weapons out of the hands of the civilians).

    Go big or go home.

    This is all comming from someone that instructed a woman to get a double barrelled shotgun (only two shells), and randomly point the gun out your window or off your deck and fire "two blasts".......... Well, whoever was trying to break into your house to do God knows what, knows that you are now out of shells and you must reload.

    Or, when he said to just discharge your shotgun through the bedroom door. Of course, you would not be able to see exactly what you are shooting at.................maybe you kill your kid, maybe you shoot your dog, heck maybe you even kill your husband.......

    Not to mention that in some/most states either one of these tidbits of "advice" will get you in trouble with the law. I belive there was a story about a guy getting in such trouble after following the shoot through the door advice.

    Also, this is not about hunting. Some states regulate/restrict the weapon type and how many rounds a hunter may bring with them on any hunt depending on the type of game.

    A 30 round MAGAZINE can be used to chamber something like the .450 Bushmaster round for the AR-15. Get this, only 7 rounds of .450 Bushmaster will fit in a 30 round MAGAZINE. So, since it only is capable of holding 7 rounds, would it then be legal for purchase?

    I can shoot 10 rounds from a 10 round MAGAZINE, drop the empty MAGAZINE, insert a new 10 round MAGAZINE, and shoot all those rounds in a very small amount of time. It takes a bit of practice to do it in a fluid motion and continue sending rounds down range, but it can be done with a bit of practice.

    It would probably only take someone moderately familitar with the AR-15 weapons system about 5 extra seconds to shoot 30 rounds from 3×10 round MAGAZINES than it would a single 30 round MAGAZINE. Not much wiggle room for some untrain person to try and bring the shooter down. But, I admit there would be SOME room for that to happen.

    But, then again, any trained shooter would have a side arm (semi-automatic pistol in a hip or thigh holster) ready to engage anyone attempting to bring them down before they could bring thier main weapon back into action following a MAGAZINE change or a malfunction.

    What you really need to do, is focus on mental health and keeping bad people off the streets once they have been arrested for drugs, violence, etc.

    Do some research and don't believe everything that Piers Morgan vommits from his extreem left mouth. If you don't like guns, thats cool with me, but leave mine alone. They aren't bothering you. I am not waiving them in your face and threatening your life. If you have someone doing that to you, maybe you should buy a gun yourself for self defense. And maybe, you should have the option to buy that AR-15 that is just sooooooo scary looking. Even if you don't buy it, at least you have that option. When you go buy a car, maybe you dont want that Porche or Bentely, but at least you have that option should you choose.

    March 21, 2013 07:11 am at 7:11 am |
  17. Free Man in the Republic of Texas

    Biden plans to fight as gun provisions struggle in Senate

    Fire two blasts in the air !!!

    March 21, 2013 07:29 am at 7:29 am |