The Washington Post

Biden in Google hangout: It’s gun safety, not gun control

Vice President Biden on Thursday continued to make the case for the Obama administration’s new gun control agenda, imploring participants in a Google “fireside hangout” to reach out to their members of Congress on the issue.

“Write your congressman. For or against, write your congressman,” Biden said during the online conversation, which comes as Democratic members are reintroducing an assault-weapons ban on Capitol Hill. Biden was joined at Thursday’s chat by moderator Hari Sreenivasan of PBS NewsHour, video blogger Philip DeFranco and Guy Kawasaki, the former Apple chief evangelist who has written a book on Google+.

Asked about the renewed push for an assault weapons ban, Biden acknowledged that the “vast majority” of deaths due to gun violence do not involve the use of such weapons.

But he framed the issue as a question of whether assault weapons have any “real utility” for gun users, arguing that fewer police officers were killed by such weapons while the previous ban was intact than after it expired.

“Police organizations overwhelmingly support (an assault weapons ban), because they get outgunned,” Biden said. “They are outgunned on the street by the bad guys and the proliferation of these weapons.”

He invoked the mass shootings in Tucson, Ariz., and Aurora, Colo., as examples of why high-capacity magazines should be banned.

“When the guy had to swap out a new magazine, he fumbled,” he said of the Tucson shooting at a constituent event for former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), arguing that if alleged gunman Jared Lee Loughner had had a high-capacity magazine, “all of them would have been dead.”

Biden also said of the broader issue of gun violence: “I don’t view it as gun control. I view it as gun safety."

At one point, on the issue of armed officers in schools, Biden said: “We are not calling for armed guards in schools.” He added: “The last thing we need to do is be arming schoolteachers and administrators.”

On the administration’s broader gun policy agenda, the vice president pushed back on the argument that it should be dropped because it would not prevent every instance of gun violence.

“I don’t buy the logic of that,” Biden said. He later added that he interprets the Second Amendment as the “individual right to own a weapon for recreation, for hunting and also for your self protection,” and that as a gun owner he personally believes that there ought to be “rational limits on the type of weapon I can own.”

He urged for federal laws against gun trafficking and straw purchasers, as well as for the tighter enforcement of existing gun laws and for increased funding for mental health initiatives and research on gun violence.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Republicans debate tonight. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
He says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything in the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.