An Examination of 'The Biden Defense' with a Shotgun
Wherever you stand on the political spectrum, the election of Joe Biden is bound to present some interesting challenges to the Second Amendment. It’s easy to draw this conclusion from reading his campaign website, where it was clearly outlined. But even back in 2013, then-Vice President Biden made some comments about firearms that raised eyebrows.
As his ascendency looms, it may be wise to reexamine those comments as a preview for what may lie ahead. I’m going to unpack Biden’s suggestions and examine them. Before you spit out your Black Rifle Coffee, I’ll warn you upfront, I actually agree with him on a couple of items but found other recommendations laughable.
Buy a Shotgun
In January 2013, Biden was on a recorded Q&A session hosted by Parents magazine. Kate Earnest submitted a question asking, “Do you believe that banning certain weapons and high-capacity magazines will mean that law-abiding citizens will then become more of a target to criminals as we will have no way to sufficiently protect ourselves?” Biden laughed and seemed surprised by the question, but the advice he offered to Earnest was remarkable for several reasons.
Biden said that if you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun. He then specified a 12 gauge. He went on to explain he has advised his wife Jill that if there was ever a problem to walk out on the balcony and “fire two blasts outside the house.” Biden concluded that “you don’t need an AR-15,” adding that it was harder to aim and harder to use. He concluded his answer by adding, “you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself.”
Vet Your ‘Experts’
There were several notable objections to this “advice” at the time, but it brings up a crucial point about vetting experts and being critical consumers of media. Being upfront, I have never served as vice president or president of the United States. I have also never created national policy.
I have responded to several home invasions (some in progress) in my 22 years of law enforcement. I have seen their aftermath. From my perspective, Biden’s suggestion about how to defend your home ranges from being skewed with ignorance at best to downright criminal at worst.
Break It Down
First off, I love shotguns. I’ll even venture to say Biden is onto something when he suggests we employ them for home defense. As to the particular model, we part ways. A double-barrel shotgun is a great tool when you consider what it was designed for – hunting. More importantly, it was engineered to give prey a sporting chance because you only get two shots before you have to open the gun and reload. Someone kicking my door in makes me feel a lot of things, but sporting isn’t one of them.
If you only own a double-barrel shotgun and must use it to defend your home, I have a few suggestions. Set up at a defensible position that offers cover and good fields of fire. Have additional ammo staged or handy, and practice accurate fire and reloads at the range before you have to do them live. A double-barrel shotgun can be used to effectively defend a home, but it isn’t the best tool for the job.
If you have decided upon a shotgun for home defense, congratulations on your wise choice! Now, buy one that is designed for that purpose. Ammo selection is also huge, but I’ll address that later for the sake of brevity.
About Those ‘Two Blasts’
I cannot fathom telling someone to fire two blasts of anything outside their house. The U.S. Census Bureau indicates approximately 80 percent of Americans now live in urban areas, making this advice potentially dangerous to neighbors and criminal for the offender. Someone directly threatening your life notwithstanding, firing a gun to scare people in municipal areas may earn you a misdemeanor or felony charge depending on the circumstances.
One man in Washington State tried using the “Biden Defense” after he caught a couple of thieves trying to steal his car early one morning. He punched one in the face then fired a shotgun into the air three times to scare them. When police arrived, he was less than cooperative and was charged with obstructing. It is incredibly important that you comply with officers who arrive at your home after a self-defense situation. It could save your life.
Also, you are required to understand the laws in your area because they will be used to judge your actions after the fact. While specifics vary depending on the state you live in, you typically cannot use deadly force against someone unless they represent an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury to you or someone nearby.
How Many Rounds Do I Need, Joe?
As stated, Biden does not seem to think anyone needs 30 rounds to defend themselves. Although, he at least acknowledges the right to self-defense in the interview. Later in the discussion, he drew a fallacious comparison between hunting and self-defense by stating, “If you can’t get the deer in the second or third shot, you shouldn’t be out there hunting deer.” While I agree with the ethical, sportsman-like nature behind this practice, deer are not known to invade homes while you are dead asleep in the night. Therefore, the standard should not be used to shore up a tired argument against the capacity of a firearm.
How about we agree that we are all responsible for each round we fire in a life-and-death scenario. But we should also endeavor to have enough ammunition to cover the situation. How about that? It’s almost impossible to know how many rounds that will be. It could be two, it could 39, perhaps even more.
I have seen recent video of groups of armed men trying to break into homes while calling out “police!” – They weren’t the police. While thankfully this is rare, I am not confident a couple of disembodied shotgun blasts off the back balcony would deter such a crew. In addition, in stressful scenarios like violent home invasion, accuracy is a huge issue.
National firearms accuracy averages for police shootings are not easily obtained. Data suggests it rarely climbs beyond the 50th percentile. Many statistics suggest it’s around one third. If this is true for “trained” law enforcement, this too is a misnomer, how do you think you will fare in your encounter?
One last thing I’d like to tackle is Biden’s thoughts on the AR-15. Saying they are harder to aim and harder to use is patently false. His statement leads me to believe he has no experience with the platform. They are a cinch to use and not much more difficult to handle than a shotgun. Loading is a little bit different, but aiming and firing are almost exactly the same. Even better, the recoil of an AR-15 is not nearly that of a 12-gauge shotgun. Better still, one 30-round magazine will go a long way toward defending your home.
Where We Agree
In retrospect, Biden endorsed the reckless approach of airing out the old scattergun to solve the problem of home defense. While the venerable 12 gauge is a formidable weapon, you can do much better than the “double-barrel” variety. He also gave some uninformed advice against AR-15s, but there were some statements in the Parents magazine Q&A that I was completely on board with.
Another person asked if the Second Amendment should be amended. Joe replied, “I don’t think we should amend the Second Amendment.” Biden admittedly grew up around guns and stated, “There’s a really healthy gun culture in this country.” You owe it to yourself to check out the entire video though. I truly endeavor to take nothing out of context. I was pleased that while the video was rolling, he also said “No one’s going to take my gun. No one’s going to take anyone’s gun.”
Amen, Joe, amen. Let's hope you follow through on your promise to not take anyone's gun, because as you stated, “We shouldn't amend the Second Amendment.”