WASHINGTON -- Vice President Joe Biden said Tuesday that Americans don't need semi-automatic weapons to protect their homes because a couple of blasts from a shotgun will scare off intruders.
"Buy a shotgun, buy a shotgun," the vice president encouraged those worried about defending themselves. He was speaking in an online video as part of a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine on the administration's strategy for reducing gun violence, which he has led at the direction of President Barack Obama.
Biden said he keeps two shotguns and shells locked up at home and he's told his wife, Jill, to use them if she needs protection. He presumably was speaking about before he became vice president, a position that gives the couple full-time Secret Service protection.
"I said, 'Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony ... take that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house,'" Biden said. "You don't need an AR-15. It's harder to aim, it's harder to use and in fact, you don't need 30 rounds to protect yourself."
Biden's answer came in response to a question posted by a Facebook user about whether the administration's proposal to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would make law-abiding citizens more of a target of criminals since they wouldn't have a sufficient way of protecting themselves. Biden bristled at the question, saying he's never heard such sentiments in the pages of Parents Magazine.
"But I'm delighted to answer them," he added quickly.
Biden said he learned his lessons on gun safety from his father, who was a hunter. He said as a child, he wasn't even allowed to point a cap gun at other children while playing cops and robbers. He said most gun owners are very responsible, but parents should make sure guns are locked up to keep children safe, just like pool gates and liquor cabinets.
He also said he doesn't think the Second Amendment's right to bear arms should be changed. He said limits on the use of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines is compatible with that right.