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Joe Biden’s Shotgun Advice Likely Against Delaware Law

In a speech earlier this week, Vice-President Biden said that had given his wife some self-defense advice:

WASHINGTON–Vice President Joe Biden’s weapon of choice for personal protection: a shotgun, he said yesterday during a forum on gun violence hosted by Facebook and Parents Magazine. “Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun,” he said.

Biden also smacked down a questioner who said drug bans did not work, so why would a gun ban “be different,” noting no one in the Obama team is suggesting a gun ban–and what’s the alternative ” we just legalize all drugs? …..That would go real well in Parents magazine.”

Biden used a pragmatic approach in arguing for a ban on assault weapons and a limit on the number of bullets in magazine clips, aiming at those who say they need the firepower for self-defense: “You don’t need an AR-15″–a semi-automatic rifle– if there is a problem at home because “it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use,” he said.

Biden owns two shotguns at home–referring to his Delaware residence–and in taking a question during the forum said “if you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun, have the shells — a 12-gauge shotgun — and I promise you — as I told my wife — we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded.

“I said, Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house. I promise you: Whoever’s coming in is not going to — 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.”

As it turns out, that piece of advice could land Mrs. Biden in jail if she ever did it:

However, Delaware law would likely make his suggestion illegal—unless the shots were fired in self-defense in a truly life-threatening situation.

A sergeant with the Wilmington, Del., police department explained to U.S. News that city residents are not allowed to fire guns on their property.

The sergeant, who preferred not to be identified, said that Wilmington residents are also not allowed to shoot trespassers. “On your property you can’t just shoot someone,” he said. “You have to really feel that your life is being threatened.”

Defense attorney John Garey—a former Delaware deputy attorney general—agreed, and added that several criminal charges might result if Jill Biden took her husband’s advice.

“In Delaware you have to be in fear of your life to use deadly force,” Garey said. “There’s nothing based on his scenario alone” indicating a reason to fear imminent death, he noted.

Whoops.

 

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. JKB says:

    It isn’t likely against the law. It is against the law and can get you 20 years. Of course, it depends on prosecutorial discretion. The Bidens, given his elite and connected status, probably wouldn’t be prosecuted under the Gregory exception.

    But Biden gave that advice to an ordinary citizen who does not enjoy the protections of being connected and would likely receive prosecutorial discretion in the opposite direction of the Bidens. As such, a woman such as her could face, illegal discharge of a firearm in the vicinity of others, reckless endangerment, use of a firearm in the course of a crime. And that is if they just discharge the shotgun outside, shot at a trespasser and you can face attempted murder with a deadly weapon, or murder should the individual not survive the assault.

    But Biden did highlight the differences between the senior Party members and the common citizen. The elite don’t live by the same laws they impose upon those they view as subjects.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  2. JKB says:

    Oh, and let’s not miss Biden’s complete ignorance of firearms. Once you’ve fired a double-barreled shotgun twice, you are left with a very expensive club. Although this ignorance certainly seems to explain why the Left believes they can preemptively decide how many rounds someone needs in a firearm. They are just plain ignorant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 5

  3. Rafer Janders says:

    @JKB:

    Once you’ve fired a double-barreled shotgun twice, you are left with a very expensive club.

    I know, it’s not like you can reload it or anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 5

  4. JKB says:

    @Rafer Janders: I know, it’s not like you can reload it or anything.

    My fault, I was hung up on the justifiable use of a firearm for self defense where the threat must be imminent and reasonably believed to involve death or serious bodily injury.

    But you are correct, in Biden’s non-imminent threat discharge of a shotgun to terrorize others, you probably would have time to reload and endanger the public some more.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

  5. CSK says:

    I certainly hope she tells her Secret Service contingent to duck before she fires.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  6. Talk about missing the point…..

    “On your property you can’t just shoot someone,” he said. “You have to really feel that your life is being threatened.”

    That’s still true if you’re brandishing an AR-15, innit?

    Damn you, Joe. Why can’t you just be another anti-gun liberal? It would be soooo much easier to mock you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  7. bill says:

    and shotguns kill people too, clueless joe.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/19/justice/california-orange-county-shootings/index.html

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  8. wr says:

    @JKB: I thought Saturday was the one day you didn’t spend wallowing in right wing self-pity.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 4

  9. Rick Almeida says:

    @JKB:

    Discharging a firearm in city limits can get you 20 years? Please provide some case law on that point.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  10. electroman says:

    @bill Yes, of course shotguns kill people (or is it people with shotguns? I’ll leave that for extra credit.)

    The point of using a shotgun for home self-defense (as opposed to some other kind of firearm) is for lower penetration. The shot is less likely to exit your house and kill your next-door-neighbor than a rifle or pistol round.

    Indeed, a rifle or pistol round can easily travel for a mile or more, which can be A Bad Thing. Shot is a lot less likely to do that.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  11. Anderson says:

    “The point of using a shotgun for home self-defense”

    It also requires little in the way of aim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  12. electroman says:

    @Anderson: I’ll agree that you don’t aim a shotgun, you point it. However, at close range the difference isn’t all that much.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  13. JKB says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    If there are people in that direction, you can get charged with attempted murder, reckless discharge, etc. There are a lot of laws you can be charged with depending on the jurisdiction.

    Bob Owens points out a few people who fired warning shots and still face or are doing prison time

    Oh, and if you make a mistake and the shot kills someone a mile away, you get to do prison time for manslaughter or even murder.

    Key point to take away, life isn’t TV. And if you aren’t one of connected elite, you should only discharge your firearm in justifiable self defense of self or others (outside of the target range or hunting). Well, unless you are security for a designated national security zone where deadly force has been authorized.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  14. JKB says:

    @electroman: The point of using a shotgun for home self-defense (as opposed to some other kind of firearm) is for lower penetration. The shot is less likely to exit your house and kill your next-door-neighbor than a rifle or pistol round.

    You are misinformed. Actually the .223 round from an AR variant is less likely to penetrate multiple walls and enter your neighbors house. Typical handgun ammunition and shot gun rounds will penetrate multiple layers of drywall. The .223 is designed to tumble and fragment reducing it’s continued penetration after striking an object

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  15. JKB says:

    In fact, the gun banners attempts to ban hollow point ammunition and also lead ammunition increases the risk of over penetration and endangers the public when someone is forced to used deadly force against an assailant.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  16. anjin-san says:

    The elite don’t live by the same laws they impose upon those they view as subjects.

    Of course in your bizarro world view, if a CEO enjoys privilege his workers don’t, that is a just reward for his hard work and ambition, and to say otherwise is “class warfare”…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  17. JKB says:

    @anjin-san:

    Equality under the law. Look into it. It really caused the Western world to bloom.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  18. JKB says:

    BTW, Biden was showing his ignorance of the AR-15 when he said, “it’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use,” . Which is odd since he supposedly headed the taskforce to investigate gun control measures for Obama. I guess he was napping when they had experts brief them on the actual real world function and characteristics of the AR-15. It’s almost like those seeking to ban the firearm don’t want to learn the scientific truths about the weapon but rather fight desperately to cling to their superstitions and baseless faith?

    Here is a woman, a professional and expert on firearms for those who love to appeal to authority, who earns her living shooting, including the AR-15 everyday.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  19. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    The NRA pushes a slightly different idea of gun safety.

    1) Always assume a gun is loaded.
    2) Don’t point a gun at anything you are not willing to destroy.
    3) Don’t touch the trigger until you’re ready to fire. (Or, as others so eloquently put it, “keep your booger-picker off the boom switch.”)

    The NRA’s advice will not get you thrown in jail. Joe Biden’s advice will.

    But anyone who takes Joe Biden’s advice or word for anything probably should be locked up, purely for their own protection.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 3

  20. Rick Almeida says:

    @JKB:

    You are a silly person. Biden’s advice was to “go out on the balcony and fire 2 shots”. They “live in a wooded area that is secluded”.

    Again, case law, please.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  21. Rick Almeida says:

    @JKB:

    Also, is it your argument that an AR-15 is easier to operate than a double-barrelled shotgun? If both are loaded and ready to fire, they’re comparable. If they are unloaded, the shotgun is easier. If one has to fire to kill an intruder in the home, the shotgun seems much more likely to take down the intruder in one shot.

    My personal home defense preference is a sawed-off, pistol-grip Mossberg 500 holding 6 shells. Easy to maneuver and aim, very deadly, affordable.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  22. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rick Almeida: You miss the points. First, Slow Joe’s advice was to fire two warning shots from a two-shot weapon. So his best response when possibly facing an attacker is to disarm yourself.

    Second, Joe’s advice was not intended for only his specific circumstances, but was intended as general advice: fire warning shots. And warning shots are usually considered a bad idea — while it might scare some away, it also might provoke others to use deadly force themselves, and you’ve just 1) given away your exact location, and 2) depleted your own ammunition.

    The NRA’s advice I quoted above is much sounder.

    In summary, Joe’s advice for safety is move out into a remote area, build or buy a house with a balcony, get yourself a double-barreled shotgun, and at the first sign of trouble empty the gun at no particular target, hoping the sound of the boomstick will scare away the intruder and not rush you before you can reload.

    Finally, your sawed-off shotgun? I dearly hope it’s not sawed below legal limits — 18 inches of barrel and 26 inches total length, I believe.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 4

  23. JKB says:

    @Rick Almeida:

    So now we’re including caveats and addendum? Biden did not qualify his advice as being for those who live on secluded country estates. Nor did he constrain it for those outside city limits since most cities prohibit firearm discharge in or near residential areas even when the homes are isolated.

    But even those qualifications don’t resolve the willful discharge of a firearm in the vicinity of others with the intent to terrorize and disturb them. Or the brandishing of a firearm.

    And the poor security advice of going outside when there is a perceived threat outside? What is the deal with that. It would be different if the advice had been to investigate the prowlers while carrying a firearm in case she had to defend herself against an attacker who presented an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury (as opposed to shooting at thieves simply stealing property). But Biden’s advice was to leave your secured home to maliciously discharge a firearm with the intent to terrorize but also to empty said firearm leaving yourself in a weakened defensive position until you could reload. Why not just go out on the balcony and fire 10 rounds from your 20 round AR-15 magazine? Or the whole magazine, save a round the last round in the chamber while you pop in another 20 round magazine?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  24. Rick Almeida says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Biden did not qualify his advice as being for those who live on secluded country estates.

    Biden said:

    “…as I told my wife — we live in an area that’s wooded and somewhat secluded. I said, Jill, if there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.

    That doesn’t sound very general.

    Also, please note that I didn’t say it was good advice. Rather, there’s nothing in that advice that would get a 20-year prison term, something you have not rebutted. Instead, you move goalposts.

    Last, Mossberg sells a pretty good selection of tactical shotguns with pistol grips and cut down barrels. I doubt they’re violating Federal law.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  25. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @Rick Almeida: I didn’t say your shotgun was illegal, I just worried yours might be non-compliant. I’m sure Mossberg’s are legal, of course.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 3

  26. matt says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: For now

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  27. JKB says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    He’s forgetting one thing. Should he use that shotgun in self defense, he could still be charged by a crusading or corrupt DA. Then that short barreled, pistol gripped shotgun will be introduced into evidence as an evil instrument of death.

    Oddly, even with the Left’s religious fervor to demonize the AR-15, such a characterization of the “assault weapon” could be easily rebutted as the same weapon carried and used by the police as a “patrol rifle.” Not to mention, that it is the most popular rifle in the country.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  28. Tyrell says:

    @JKB: Our state has a self defense law that a person who has an intruder in the house and feels endangered is justified in using force. A policeman once told me in that situation make sure that the person is in the house and is holding some kind of weapon – knife, bat, gun, piece of iron pipe, hammer.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  29. JKB says:

    @Tyrell:

    In most states with Castle Doctrine, there is a presumption of justifiable self defense if you use deadly force against someone inside your home that has no right to be there and has not been invited in regardless of whether they have a weapon. As always, if the individual has a weapon, you can justify self defense under the standard definition of self defense.

    Keep in mind, Castle doctrine simply dictates the use of deadly force is justifiable in the absence of evidence otherwise. It does not prevent police from investigating or from making the case the use of deadly force was not justifiable based on evidence. Castle doctrine also does not justify the use deadly force against someone who has the right to be in the home or someone invited into the home by an occupant. In such cases, the self defense is justifiable only in response to a reasonable fear of imminent death or serious bodily injury just as it would be in public.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

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