Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said Tuesday that parents interested in having firearms for protection should purchase shotguns instead of assault weapons.
“If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun,” Biden said in response to a question during a Facebook video chat with Parents magazine.
Biden said that he told his wife, Jill, “If there’s ever a problem here, just walk out on the balcony, here, walk out, put that double barrel shotgun and just fire two blasts outside the house.”
Biden’s waterfront home in Wilmington, Del., is adjacent to a wooded area.
“I promise you, whoever’s coming in is not going to — you don’t need an [assault rifle]. It’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and, in fact, you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself,” he said. “Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun.”
Biden faced a variety of contentious questions about potential restrictions on firearms ownership and reductions in the size of high-capacity magazines. One participant asked Biden if parents should ask fellow parents whether or not there were guns in their houses when their kids were visiting them. Biden said it was largely a matter of personal choice but added that when he had young children, he would ask if his children’s friends parents would lock their swimming pool gates.
“When my kids were 14, 15 and 16, at the time when kids start experimenting, I’d like to know if they were having a party ... whether or not the parents locked the liquor cabinet,” he said.
“I have five grandchildren ... they’re around all the time. I have two shotguns. They’re locked in a safe,” Biden added.
On the other side of the debate, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz warned against efforts to increase gun control during an event at a Texas gun manufacturer Tuesday.
“The Supreme Court made absolutely clear that the Second Amendment is a constitutional right of every American and constitutional rights are designed to be protected not just when they’re popular, but especially when passions are high among those seeking to restrict and limit those rights. While we should use every available means to deter and to punish mass murderers, the federal government should not be trying to ban gun ownership for law-abiding Americans.”
Biden reiterated that there will not be a prohibition on firearm ownership, but added in response to question that in his view, it is within the bounds of the Second Amendment to have some restrictions on the variety of weapons available.
“The Constitution does allow the government to conclude that there are certain types of weapons that no one can legally own. Now, if that were not the case, then you should be able to go buy a flamethrower,” Biden said.
Without that mindset, he said, the possibilities would be limitless.
“You should be able to go, if you’re a billionaire, buy an F-15 loaded with ordinates. You should be able to buy an N-1 tank. You should be able to buy a machine gun. You should be able to buy a grenade launcher. You can’t do those things,” he said.
Biden is traveling to Danbury, Conn., on Thursday for a conference about gun violence being hosted by Connecticut’s Democratic Sens. Christopher S. Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, as well as Democratic Rep. Elizabeth Esty. Danbury is a short distance from Newtown, the site of last December’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School that has become the catalyst for the push toward universal background checks and other gun legislation.