Vice President Joe Biden took his fight against gun violence to a Google+ Hangout Thursday, but ended up recommending the best gun to buy for anyone hoping to protect themselves after a natural disaster. "If you want to keep people away during an earthquake," he said, "buy some shotgun shells."
The vice president's surprising advice came at the end of a half-hour chat, during which he was pressed to defend his recommendations to President Obama that became the basis of the president's recent executive orders and legislative proposals. It came in response to a questioner who explained that many Americans see assault weapons as "the last line of defense" after something like an earthquake in California.
"Well, guess what," Biden responded, "a shotgun will keep you a lot safer, a double barreled shotgun, than an assault weapon in someone's hands that doesn't know how to use it." He added, "It is harder to use an assault weapon to hit something than it is with a shotgun."
The vice president made a larger point that he regards the effort to restrict the size of magazines as more important than reinstating the assault weapons ban. "More people out there get shot with a Glock that has cartridges that you can have magazines where you can put 2, 10,8, 12, 16, 30 shells in it than from any assault weapon you see," he said. "I'm much less concerned, quite frankly, about what you call an assault weapon than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can be held in a magazine."
He said that the some children may have been saved had the shooter in Newtown, Conn., been forced to pause long enough to change magazines. "His response time, in fact, might have saved one kid's life," he said. "I'm not making the argument that this will end crime"¦ There is no sporting need I'm aware of to have a magazine that holds 50 rounds. None that I'm aware of, and I'm a sportsman."
During the session, the vice president also lamented what he called the "absolutist" positions of leading opponents of gun controls, including the National Rifle Association. He also criticized those who oppose collecting information about gun usage. "We shouldn't be afraid of the facts," he said.
He also objected when the president's proposals were called gun control." I don't view it as gun control," he said. "I view it as gun safety."