When President Obama chose Vice President Joe Biden to head his gun violence research commission, putting him front and center in the national gun debate, it was only a matter of time until the gaffs started rolling.
In an online town hall meeting hosted by "Parent's Magazine" on Tuesday, in which he answered a barrage of questions from readers "less inclined to agree with his party's push to ban high capacity magazines and assault weapons", Biden made a number of surprising statements; well maybe not that surprising, considering the source.
According to Yahoo, The vice president was emphatic in his defense of the government's right to ban certain weapons, particularly when answering one question in which he was asked "how he reconciled a ban on assault weapons with those already in the hands of criminals". His answer seemed to have little if anything to do with the question asked.
"How can I say this politely?" replied Biden. "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 flame-thrower that the military has". He then went on to list other weapons such as machine guns, grenade launchers, loaded F-15s, and M1 tanks and made if clear that no one is permitted to own those items.
However, the most interesting response, by far, was when the vice president described how he had advised his wife to handle "trouble" at their Delaware home: "I said, 'Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house."
The vice president proceeded to give a lesson on why a shotgun is an easier tool for fending off an intruder than the civilian variation of an M-16 assault rifle.
"You don't need an AR-15," he said. "It's harder to aim, it's harder to use, and in fact you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself," he said, as reported by the Associated Press.
As if the viewers hadn't already caught on that Biden was a gun owner, he used another question about how a "ban on guns" would work when banning narcotics failed to keep them off the streets, as an opportunity to make that point clear. After insisting that there would not be a ban on guns, he said that he had two shotguns at his home and even described where they were located, "They're in a - in a cabinet. They're locked. There is a ammunition there as well".
It sounds like Biden may be less than confident in his 24-hour Secret Service protection. It Mrs. Biden had to personally fend off intruders with a shotgun, it would be very embarrassing for all those armed bodyguards, not to mention a waste of taxpayer money.
Biden then readdressed the drug analogy sarcastically, asking the reader, "Are you suggesting [...] we just legalize all drugs? Is that what you're suggesting? That would go real well in Parents magazine," he said.
Although many undoubtedly found a certain amount of comic relief in Vice President Biden's remarks, the image of Biden with a shotgun in his hands is a disturbing one for many reasons. Hopefully he won't need to unlock that cabinet.
Vice President Joe Biden by Andrew Cutraro, White House photographer, via Wikimedia Commons