A Philosopher's Blog

Joe With a Shotgun

Posted in Law, Politics by Michael LaBossiere on February 27, 2013
English: A view of the break-action of a typic...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Joe Biden recently fired off both barrels when asked a question about guns and self defense.  He said, “Kate,if you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun, have the shells, a 12-gauge shotgun.”

This is the same advice he gave his wife, Jill: “I said, ‘Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here. Walk out and put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house’ … 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. Buy a shotgun! Buy a shotgun!”

While Joe is often cast as a loose shotgun, his remarks are actually quite rational in two ways. First, he is right about shotguns. Second, while his remarks seem a bit wacky, they will held the administration.

Getting to the first point, Joe is right that a shotgun is a good choice for home defense. As he notes, a shotgun is very easy to aim-just point it towards the target and the pellet spread (assuming you are using shot rather than a slug) will probably hit the target. Shotguns also do good damage against unarmored targets, such as the typical intruder. He doesn’t mention that the pellets from a shotgun have less range and penetration power than rifle and even pistol bullets, but for home defense that is generally good. After all, a rifle bullet can shoot through walls (even exterior walls) and hit an innocent person in the next room, next house or even the next block.

His remark about firing a blast off the balcony is a bit wacky, but it does make a certain amount of sense-after all, if you can scare someone away without shooting them, that is probably good for everyone involved. Best not to use both barrels, though-unless you can reload quickly. Of course, shooting a gun off into the air could raise some legal problems and there is the obvious concern about where the pellets will fall.

In regards to the second point, Joe’s seemingly off-message remarks are actually useful for making the administration seem to be limited in its intentions regarding guns. That is, when Joe says “buy a shotgun!”, that is hardly anti-gun. Rather, he makes the point that he is not against guns in general but against assault rifles.

This may seem like an odd position-after all, he lauded the power of the shotgun as a defense weapon. However, it could be claimed that his position does make sense. After all, a person using a double-barreled shotgun will not be able to shoot as fast as a person with an AR-15 and this would, presumably, have a chance of reducing the damage done by a person in a mass shooting.  Of course, it could be countered that a person armed with a shotgun could kill people fairly quickly and perhaps even more easily. After all, if a shotgun is easier to use, then someone who is not a good shot could actually do more damage with a shotgun than with a rifle or pistols.

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14 Responses

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  1. WTP said, on February 27, 2013 at 7:39 am

    Joe created a weak straw man argument, something you are rather good at yourself. I notice you don’t come down from the tower much anymore to respond to anyones comments. That committee work must keep you busy. Not too busy to pontificate, just too busy to reflect. Cute how you use original posts to “respond” to my comments, like this one, but refuse to interact directly with my challenges to your ideas. Rather blatant intellectual cowardice. If you’re gonna ignore me, have the cajones to do just that.

  2. T. J. Babson said, on February 27, 2013 at 8:33 am

    “Saturday Night Specials” (cheap handguns) = Bad, must be banned

    “Military Style Handguns” (expensive handguns) = Bad, must be banned

    “Assault Weapons” (inaccurate, short-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned

    “Sniper Rifles” (accurate, long-range rifles) = Bad, must be banned

    Buy, hey, shotguns are OK!

  3. Norm said, on February 27, 2013 at 8:35 am

    what had me laughing at this idiot was first the shotgun’s kick would knock his wife on her ass and he told her to fire TWO blasts which would empty the gun and allow any assailant to approach her w/o fear of getting shot. Been is such an embarrassment.

  4. adampjr said, on February 27, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Michael Labossiere,
    Respectfully, I think you are overlooking something. It is 100% true that a shotgun is a good home defense gun for non-gun enthusiasts. One the primary reasons for this is the relatively low cost in my opinion.
    That said, there is a reason why some of us prefer the AR with 30 rounds to shotguns (much less with only TWO shots). You are absolutely overestimating the spread of a shotgun blast. It is easier than you seem to think to completely miss your target. You need more than two rounds to be sure you can put a guy down. For this reason, a pump shotgun or an AR are both better than a weak, two-shot shotgun for defense.
    The AR would be EASIER for a newbie to use than a pump shotgun (I’m proficient with both). I can fire my pump at near semi-automatic speeds, no way my wife could fire that fast. It would also be more difficult for her to aim the second shot. However, ARs do not have the kick that shotguns do, and they have more rounds.The ability to always be able to fire another round cannot be underestimated, especially for newer shooters. In the hands of a new shooter, 10 rounds from an AR15 is more accurate than two birdshot.
    If you have the time, let me know where you think I am wrong.
    -John Marion

    • G0m3r said, on February 27, 2013 at 10:16 am

      Plus if you sawed off a portion of the shotgun’s barrels you increase it’s effectiveness as a close quarters combat weapon. But if you do this you violate federal law. The people who actually think Biden knows what he is talking about are dangerously ignorant of firearms.

      • WTP said, on February 27, 2013 at 11:53 am

        The people who actually think Biden knows what he is talking about are dangerously ignorant of firearms.

        Or sophist philosophers/academics who defend leftist politicos and other leftists, no matter how obviously wrong they are…or both.

      • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 27, 2013 at 12:52 pm

        A shotgun can have a relatively short barrel legally. Also, there are pistols that fire shotgun shell (usually the 410 shell).

        • G0m3r said, on February 27, 2013 at 1:30 pm

          There is a legal limit to how much you can cut off. I forget the Federal law which imposes the limit. There are also some states who have their own laws limiting that amount as well.

        • G0m3r said, on February 27, 2013 at 2:13 pm

          found the info. Under the National Firearms Act (NFA), it is illegal for a private citizen to possess a sawed-off modern smokeless powder shotgun (a shotgun with a barrel length shorter than 18 inches (46 cm) or an overall length shorter than 26 inches (66 cm)), without a tax-paid registration from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, requiring a background check and either a $200 or $5 tax for every transfer, depending upon the specific manufacturing circumstances of the particular sawed-off modern shotgun being transferred. Kinda ridiculous but there it is.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on February 27, 2013 at 12:51 pm

      True, the spread of pellets does require range-at very close range a person is (in general) only somewhat more likely to hit with a shotgun than with a rifle. Both weapons tend to tie in terms of the length factor (which can make it harder to use the weapon in close quarters).

      As you note, if someone fires ten shots from an AR-15 s/he is more likely to get a hit than with 1 or 2 shots with a shotgun. Of course, there is the concern about where the missed shots are going. So, a double barrel shotgun is probably a sub optimal choice for home defense relative to a weapon with more shots-such as a semi-automatic shotgun.

      True, using a pump shotgun effectively requires some experience with the weapon. I was a duck hunter for years and I got really good at rapid shooting-but it did take some practice. That said, I think that a person who buys a gun for self-defense (be it an AR-15 or shotgun or whatever) has a moral obligation to learn how to handle the weapon safely and properly. While I am not anti-gun, I have seen enough people do stupid things with guns to be inclined to support mandatory training for gun ownership.

      • WTP said, on February 27, 2013 at 1:07 pm

        Note that the original question Joey B. was asked was not specific to shotgun vs. AR-15. He made a straw man out of that question. Note also that you stated, unequivocally (surprising for you) Getting to the first point, Joe is right that a shotgun is a good choice for home defense.. Whereas every comment here points out that the shotgun is a poor choice vs. practically every other reasonable option, whereas the original question was in regard to a woman’s use of said weapon, any woman, not a Sarah Palin type, and note that the choice of bullet and/or other weapon option significantly impacts your concerns about pass-through risks do you still stand by your statement that Joe is right that a shotgun is a good choice for home defense. ?

  5. T.J. Babson said, on March 1, 2013 at 1:44 am

    This about sums it up:

    • WTP said, on March 1, 2013 at 7:44 am

      But Joe is the VP of the United States and possesses a JD degree and Mike has a PhD. These people are our betters, they have the credentials, and they know what is good for us. Plus they are part of the “reality based community”. Don’t be bringing the real world into the picture. You’re just being a smart ass. Besides, those pictures were faked. I’m sure AJ has a link somewhere.

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