Biden: Constitution does not guarantee your right to own assault weapons

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In a Google+ Hangout, Vice President Joe Biden told those participating in the discussion that the Second Amendment does not protect their right to own assault weapons. (Photo: CNN)

In a Google+ Hangout, Vice President Joe Biden told those participating in the discussion that the Second Amendment does not protect their right to own assault weapons. (Photo: CNN)

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(CNN) – Assault weapons aren’t needed, period. Not even in earthquakes. At least, that’s what Vice President Joe Biden says.

Answering critics who say assault weapons would be useful as a last line of defense should a natural disaster result in chaos, Biden gave some advice Thursday in a discussion about gun control during a Google+ Hangout.

The vice president, known for his colorful, off-the-cuff remarks, said a double-barrel shotgun would be more practical in such a scenario, adding assault weapons are harder to handle for people unfamiliar with the firearms.

“It’s harder to use an assault weapon to hit something than it is a shotgun, OK?” he said, as he mimicked holding a gun with both arms. “So if you want to keep people away in an earthquake, buy some shotgun shells.”

Like Obama before him, the vice president also emphasized that he’s a firm believer in the Second Amendment during the chat. But Biden took issue with the argument that banning assault rifles would mean infringing on the unimpeachable rights guaranteed by the Second Amendment.

Biden made his counter argument by comparing proposed new curbs on assault weapons to keeping fully-equipped F-15 fighter jets off the market.

“You have an individual right to own a weapon both for recreation, for hunting and also for your self-protection,” Biden said. “But just as you don’t have an individual right to go out and buy an F-15 — if you’re a billionaire — with ordnance on it, just like you don’t have the right to buy an M-1 tank, just like you don’t have a right to buy an automatic weapon, you should not be able to get other weapons for which there is no reasonable societal justification, or constitutional justification.”

When pressed on whether he expects an assault weapons ban or magazine limit to actually reduce crime, Biden said he’s “not making the argument that this will end crime.”

“I’m making the argument this way: There’s no sporting need that I’m aware of that has a magazine that holds 50 rounds. None that I’m aware of. And I’m a sportsman.”

Biden’s comments came the same day Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced her assault weapons ban bill, a piece of legislation with strong support from President Barack Obama. The president and vice president rolled out their own proposals to curb gun violence last week, and Biden will hit the road Friday to take the administration’s case before the public in Richmond, Virginia.

Feinstein’s measure would stop the sale, transfer, importation and manufacture of more than 100 specialty firearms and certain semi-automatic rifles.

Along with banning assault weapons, the administration and Feinstein also want to install a 10-round limit for magazines.

“I’m much less concerned quite frankly about what you’d call an assault weapon than I am about magazines and the number of rounds that can be held,” Biden said.

One participant in the web discussion–who had initially asked the question about earthquakes–also followed up by asking whether a magazine cap would actually have an impact in a scenario such as the mass shooting at the Connecticut elementary school that left 26 dead, including 20 children.

Biden said that gunman, who had 30-round magazines, had to swap out “four or five times.” If limited to 10 rounds, however, the vice president argued the gunman would have had to swap out 25 or 30 times.

“And so what would happen is the response time, in fact, may have saved one kid’s life. Maybe if it took longer, maybe one more kid would be alive,” Biden said.

He also pointed to the gunmen in the Aurora, Colorado movie theater shooting and the Tucson, Arizona shooting, both of whom had to pause because their magazines either ran out or jammed.

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