At a campaign stop in Michigan this week, Joe Biden was asked by a factory worker about his position on guns. The conversation didn’t go well.
When the man said Biden was “actively trying to end our Second Amendment right and take away our guns,” Biden told the voter he was “full of sh–.”
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After talking about his collection of shotguns, Biden made the bizarre claim that “you’re not allowed to own any weapon” and said the man didn’t need an “AR-14.”
Biden denied having an intention to take guns, insisting, “I did not say that. That’s not true. I did not say that.” However, in a 2019 interview, CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper mentioned how some worried “a Biden administration means they’re gonna come for my guns.” The former vice president offered a blunt reply.
“Bingo, you’re right, if you have an assault weapon. The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period,” he declared. While Biden’s statement seemed to have plenty of emotion behind it, there wasn’t much in the way of reason.
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In military parlance, the term “assault weapon” refers to “selective-fire weapons that fire a cartridge intermediate in power between submachine gun and rifle cartridges.” Such weapons are already highly regulated and the sale of new models has been banned since 1986.
If Biden is referring to AR-15-style semi-automatic rifles, then it’s hard to make a practical case for outlawing them. Of the over 15 thousand murders committed in 2017, the FBI reports that only 403 involved rifles of any kind. CDC figures show that in the same year, 624 children 9 years of age and under drowned, yet Biden isn’t pushing to ban tubs, pools, or plastic buckets.
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On the other hand, its ability to deliver quick follow-up shots makes an AR useful for self-defense, a fact that many people know first hand.
And although Biden has derided the idea that someone might need “one hundred rounds,” LA’s Korean-American shopkeepers demonstrated the importance of magazine capacity in 1992. When their community was attacked by rioters, they showed that having a semi-automatic rifle and plenty of ammunition is about the only way to hold off an angry mob.
Most importantly, it’s pretty tough to justify a ban on America’s most commonly sold rifle given the Second Amendment clearly says the “right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” In his confrontation with the Michigan voter, Biden tried to reconcile this by pointing out that rights can be limited, noting how the First Amendment doesn’t protect yelling fire in a crowded theater.
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However, that analogy doesn’t hold up. Glenn Beck recently pointed out that there is simply no comparison between trying to harm people by causing a stampede and exercising your right to self-defense.
As Joe Biden walked away on Tuesday, he told the man he was arguing with not to be “a horse’s ass.” He should consider taking his own advice.
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