Joe Biden: The Voice Of Anti-Gun Experience

Posted on September 5, 2008

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Last week, we highlighted the enormous differences between vice presidential nominees Sarah Palin (R) and Joe Biden (D).  Most people are saying that Barack Obama chose Biden as his running mate to compensate for his own lack of experience.  After all, Obama has been in the Senate since only 2005, while Biden has been a senator since 1973, when Obama was 11 years old.  But few in the Senate have as much experience as Biden in attacking our Right to Keep and Bear Arms. 

Just like fellow Democrats Edward Kennedy, Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein, Biden has voted for, and actively pushed, major anti-gun bills, including those:

  • Banning semi-automatic firearms;
  • Banning hunting, sporting and self-defense ammunition;
  • Banning magazines holding more than 10 rounds; and
  • Imposing a waiting period on handgun sales. 

Biden also voted against the law that prohibits lawsuits designed to bankrupt law-abiding firearm manufacturers and dealers.  And he voted against the confirmation of Supreme Court Justices who support the Second Amendment, and voted for the confirmation of Justices who do not. 

The Brady Campaign sums it up in a straightforward fashion: "Senator Biden has been a consistent supporter of the Brady Campaign."  According to the gun prohibition activist group, "Senator Biden was a key player in the fight for the federal assault weapons ban that passed in 1994.  He also worked hard for passage of the Brady Law (sic)." 

To hear Biden tell it, though, that's only half the story.  Last year, during a debate with Obama, Sen. Hillary Clinton, and other contenders for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination, Biden said, "I'm the guy who originally wrote the assault weapons ban." 

Now, on the one hand, Biden has been faulted in the past for claiming credit for others' work.  In one instance, the Washington Post reported, Biden "lifted five pages from a published law review article and used them in his 15-page paper for a legal-methods course" in college.  He also plagiarized British Labor Leader Neil Kinnock in a speech before the National Education Association, and similarly "failed to attribute to the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy a lengthy passage . . . in a speech he gave to the California Democratic Party." 

But Biden almost told the truth about his role in the "assault weapon" issue.  Indeed, though Sens. Howard Metzenbaum (D-OH) and Dennis DeConcini (D-AZ) had authored earlier bills, Biden introduced an "assault weapons" ban in Congress five years before the Clinton gun and magazine ban was imposed.  In 1989, a Biden bill (S. 1970) proposed to ban the Colt AR-15 and eight similar firearms as "assault weapons," and authorize the Secretary of the Treasury (in reality, the then Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) and the Attorney General to recommend to Congress any other firearms, regardless of type, to be banned as "additional assault weapons." 

To this day, Biden doesn't merely support a ban on "assault weapons" and standard-capacity magazines holding more than 10 rounds, he actively pushes it.  In the current Congress, another Biden bill (S. 2237) proposes to renew the Clinton ban on roughly 200 makes and models of semi-automatic rifles, shotguns, and handguns on the basis of things like the shape of their grips, and on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds, regardless of the kind of firearm in which they are used. 

The Supreme Court's recent ruling in District of Columbia v. Heller—the case that overturned Washington, D.C.'s handgun banoffers two more insights into Biden's position on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. 

First, Biden has been in the Senate long enough to vote on the confirmation of all nine justices now on the Court.  Biden voted to confirm only one of the five justices who ruled against D.C.'s handgun ban in Heller, and he voted to confirm all four justices who believed D.C. could ban handguns without violating the Second Amendment. 

Second, before the case went before the Supreme Court, more than 300 members of Congress signed a legal brief supporting the Second Amendment and opposing D.C.'s handgun ban.  Biden, like Obama, refused to sign the brief. 

While the Obama campaign wants voters to think that Joe Biden complements him, bringing a different perspective to the Democrat ticket, the reality is that both candidates have long records throughout their careers of not merely of going along with gun control, but originating and pushing the anti-gun agenda aggressively.  It is fair to say that if Barack Obama is elected president, Joe Biden will be the most anti-gun vice president in American history.
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