Vice President Joseph R. Biden encouraged people who want to defend themselves to buy a shotgun Tuesday and dismissed outright the comparison between a ban on illegal drugs and a ban on guns -- rhetorically positing the idea of legalizing cocaine to make his point.
Mr. Biden, in a wide-ranging Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine, also said there is no one single measure that would be most effective in preventing future incidents of gun violence, but a number of them can help, including background checks on virtually all gun purchases and bans on so-called assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
As he did in a previous Google+ "fireside hangout," Mr. Biden said that for self-defense, a shotgun is much more effective and user-friendly than an AR-15, one of the better-known semiautomatic rifles.
"If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun," he said. "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."
But the submitted question that evoked among the more provocative responses was, "If the ban on drugs did not work with taking them off the street, how do you think a ban on guns is going to be different?"
"There is no ban on guns. No one's taking my shotgun," Mr. Biden said.
"Are you suggesting we just legalize all drugs?" he continued. "Is that what you're suggesting? That would go real well in Parents Magazine. Let's talk about everybody being able to, no matter what your age, go out and [be] able to purchase cocaine. What do you think about that idea?"
"Look, these comparisons are not appropriate, quite frankly, but secondly, the idea [that] you should have no law unless the law you have prevents all violations of that law -- that is not the way society works," he said.
Mr. Biden has spearheaded President Obama's push for gun controls in the wake of the shooting deaths of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., in December. He is scheduled to speak at a conference on gun violence in nearby Danbury, Conn., on Thursday that will be hosted by members of the state's congressional delegation.
Mr. Biden, who owns two shotguns, also touched on gun safety in the Tuesday chat, saying he keeps them locked in a safe. He said asking the parents of a child's friend if they keep guns in the house is a judgment call, but that it isn't an unreasonable question. He likened it to experiences with his own children of wanting to know whether sleepover destinations with pools had locked gates or, when his children were in their teenage years, whether parents' liquor cabinets had locks if someone was having a party.
"I think the vast majority of the American people are serious and responsible, and I think the vast, overwhelming majority of gun owners are responsible and, in fact, keeping a gun out of the reach of children or strangers is just common sense," he said.
Mr. Biden's Tuesday event comes on the heels of a trip to Colorado, where he phoned Democratic members of the state General Assembly while vacationing in Aspen to urge them to support gun-control measures that passed the state House on Monday.
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