Former Vice President Joe Biden claimed that more Americans are dying from gun violence than “anything else happening” at a gun control forum in Las Vegas Wednesday afternoon. Responding to a question by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords about how Biden talks about gun violence at the kitchen table, Biden issued a rambling diatribe that, at one point, included that startling and erroneous claim that more Americans are dying from “gun violence” than anything else (homicides and suicides combined make up less than three percent of all deaths, with heart disease and cancer responsible for nearly sixty percent of deaths per year). In almost the same breath, however, Biden talked about how he tells his grandchildren to “play the percentage game”, noting that the odds of any of us being the victim of gun violence are incredibly small.
It was part of a strange and largely subdued appearance by Biden, who was at least on topic for most of his time on stage. The question by Giffords, however, led to a long and rambling stream of consciousness monologue that ended with a strange and less subdued rant about protecting ducks more than we protect people, because Delaware limits shotguns to three rounds while duck hunting. Biden somehow thinks this is aimed at protecting ducks, and went on to declare, that we should be able to ban guns that can fire more than some yet-to-be-determined number of rounds.
The reason why I demand more than three rounds to defend myself is that I’m not a freaking duck. I’m a human being, I’m an American, and I demand my right to keep and bear enough firepower to protect myself, my family, and my property from multiple threats. Criminals don’t always fly solo. Quite often they work in pairs or even larger groups.
In some ways, Biden is one of the least anti-gun candidates in the field of Democrats running for president (which, admittedly, isn’t saying much). He doesn’t support straight confiscation of banned “assault weapons”, and isn’t supporting a national gun license, but then he comes out and says something about banning guns that can shoot more than “x” rounds. That would get ban pretty much every semi-automatic firearm in the country, or at least those that can accept detachable magazines. Not even Beto O’Rourke has gone that far (though I wouldn’t put it past him). He’s all over the map, and frankly, sounded like he hadn’t thought much about the issue throughout much of his answer to Gabrielle Giffords.
Biden talked about investing $900 million into the 20 cities with the biggest gun violence problems, but he didn’t say where the money would come from, nor did he offer a price tag for his proposed ban and compensated confiscation of millions of firearms and hundreds of millions of magazines. In fact, he didn’t really return to his proposed ban of semi-automatic rifles (unless existing owners register their firearms under the National Firearms Act) at all. Then again, it was hard to find a central theme of Ramblin’ Joe’s time on stage. It’s clear that he cares about the issue of violent crime, and I think he recognizes that gang violence is far more common than active assailant attacks. It’s far less clear that he knows what to do about either one of the issues.