Vice President Joe Biden loves to use personal anecdotes to illustrate his lengthy talking points, and that’s what he did in a social media townhall on Tuesday.
Biden gave attendees some advice on home protection.
Bloggers have nattered about Biden’s how-to on self-defense, but I don’t think anyone has actually analyzed the logic in what he said. There are some major flaws that could make you less safe.
Biden recounted instructions he gave his wife:
"We live in an area that's wooded and secluded," Biden said. "I said, Jill, if there's ever a problem just walk out on the balcony here ... put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house."
For starters, anyone raised around hunters and guns knows the first rule: Never shoot a gun (or point it) at something you don’t aim to kill.
There’s also the matter of walking out on that balcony. If a would-be home invader has a shotgun with buckshot or any weapon amenable to long range accuracy, you could be shot dead before you ever get a chance to fire those “blasts.” You are, the moment you stand still outside anywhere, a sitting duck.
If you do fire the blasts, bear in mind there are local ordinances about firing any gun. If you should hit someone (or endanger someone), you could end up in jail. A woman in Florida received a 20-year minimum mandatory sentence (she refused a plea deal) after allegedly firing a “warning shot” at her husband—she claimed he was “abusive.” By firing that shot, she endangered two children who were present. The case was very complex, but I mention it because of the defendant’s claims.
Biden did note his neighborhood is “wooded and secluded.” That doesn’t matter. You never know who is on the street (or woods) at night and those blasts, fired at random, could endanger another.
Some individuals have a completely irrational habit of firing a gun to celebrate something. In Florida and elsewhere, injuries occur as a result of celebratory gunfire. Shots fired at random, for celebration or warning, are never a good thing.
If Murphy’s Law kicks in, you could hit an owl or another nongame animal. Ouch. Regulations could send you to federal prison for that.
It’s ironic that Biden didn’t give a piece of advice you’d think automatic—after all, the president likes to line up first responders in uniform when pitching federal spending.
Before you fire any weapon, the moment you perceive a threat, call the police.
I do agree a shotgun is a pretty good self-defense weapon—as long as it’s loaded with buckshot.
(Commentary by Kay B. Day/Feb. 21, 2013)
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