Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. held his tongue when questioned at a Capitol Hill hearing on Vice President Joseph R. Biden’s recent comments on the relative merits of the semiautomatic AR-15 rifle and a shotgun for self-defense.
Mr. Holder didn’t bite when asked directly by Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, if he could envision a scenario — contrary to Mr. Biden’s comments — where the AR-15 rifle would be better for self-defense than a shotgun.
“I think I might have shot [an AR-15] at the FBI Academy,” Mr. Holder said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “I know it’s a very popular weapon.”
Mr. Holder added, though, that the situation is hypothetical — and that even in a post-disaster scenario, he didn’t see how the weapon would help.
“I don’t think New Orleans would have been better served by having AR-15s in a post-Katrina environment,” Mr. Holder said.
“Well, what I’m saying, if my family was in the crosshairs of gangs that were roaming around neighborhoods in New Orleans or any other location, the deterrent effect of an AR-15 to protect my family, I think, is greater than a double-barreled shotgun,” Mr. Graham replied. “But the vice president and I have a disagreement on that.”
Mr. Biden, in a January Google+ “Fireside Hangout,” had advised that “if you want to keep people away during an earthquake, buy some shotgun shells.”
He repeated his preference for the weapon last month during a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents magazine.
“If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun. You don’t need an AR-15,” Mr. Biden said. “You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim; it’s harder to use. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun.”