Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The wisdom of Joe Biden

Vice President Joe Biden explains that you don't need an AR-15. If someone tries to come into your house, simply step out on your balcony and fire your double barrel shotgun.

This seems to me to be out of touch. Many home owners prefer the AR-15 or similar rifles because rifles of modern design have several outstanding qualities for home defense. The shotgun's two shots are plainly an inadequate supply, since most shots fired in gunfights miss. In a home invasion by multiple bandits, thirty shots may be none too many, because most of those shots will miss, and because not all assailants are felled by a single hit.

No, Joe, the AR-15 with its 30 round standard capacity magazine is a perfectly good weapon for home defense, and much better in the real world than a double barrel bird gun. Besides, not everyone has a balcony.

The AR and comparable designs have become the de facto standard for defense rifles for honest and peaceable citizens, and with good reason. Such rifles are suitable for the job and other choices now on the market are less suitable. The factual errors in Mr. Biden's claims are several. You may indeed need 30 rounds. The AR-15 is very easy to shoot well, an outstanding feature of the design, due to its ergonomic control layout, straight line stock and light recoil. It kicks much less than a 12 gauge. At short range the shotgun does indeed need to be aimed, because its pellets have not spread out much. In short, the arch superiority of Biden's opinion is not backed by knowledge, but is of a piece with the rest of the high handed sneering we have heard from the left in this debate. The superior tone is not warranted because his facts are wrong. This carelessness about facts has characterized, throughout, the left's part in the debate.

Furthermore the tactic he recommends is no good. Firing warning shots is a generally poor idea. One of the problems with firing warning shots: Once you have fired both barrels from your Biden gun, your gun is empty and your assailants know where you are. They may shoot you. Not warning shots, but shots at you personally. There is also the chance that your warning shots may cause damage to something or someone you did not intend, somewhere downrange. Many police departments forbid their officers to fire warning shots. Here is a pretty good article about what's wrong with warning shots, written by a professional. You would be better advised to take the professional's advice than Biden's.

There is something a little disturbing in Biden's line of talk, beyond its utter fatuousness. Oppressive regimes have historically been less restrictive on shotgun ownership than on other firearms, because you can do a good deal with shotguns in the line of pot hunting and pest control, which serve the state's interests, but not much against a government armed with rifles. I doubt that this point was in Mr. Biden's mind, but there is a general sense or presumption among the anti-gun crowd that shotguns are good and other guns are bad, or at least that shotguns are less bad, and it is okay to shoot skeet and things, with guns like the President's.

One of the things that very much bothered the British Home Guard after Dunkirk was that the commonest firearm among them was the double barrel shotgun, and threatening them over the channel were hordes with rifles and machine guns. They certainly had every reason to be concerned! I would feel at least some of the same concern using a double barrel against the weapons of America's gang criminals. That seems to me an essential point in this debate and one the left greets with silence. If the purposes of the Second Amendment are to be honored, the citizen needs something like parity with the arms borne by the potential threats.

H/T to Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard blog for surfacing the video: http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/biden-buy-shotgun-buy-shotgun_702989.html

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