On the same day that Sen. Diane Feinstein introduced a new assault weapons ban, Vice President Joe Biden hosted a “fireside hangout” web conference as part of his continued campaigning for the White House’s gun safety agenda.
He took questions on some of the more controversial measures, including the proposed assault weapons ban, pushing back against the argument that it wouldn’t have a big enough impact to be pursued, saying that one must ask “whether or not assault weapons have any real utility.”
“Police organizations overwhelmingly support it because they get out gunned,” he pointed out. ”It’s not an answer to all the problems,” he said. “But it’s a rational limitation on what types of weapons can be owned.”
Biden also reiterated President Obama’s argument that each gun safety proposal doesn’t have to have a huge impact in order to be worth pursuing. ”Even if [a policy] only impacts on saving one life of a child or an individual out there, it’s worth doing, but I think we can do even more than that,” he said.
He used similar reasoning to justify a limit on high-capacity magazines, pointing out that lives could have been saved in the Aurora theater shooting if the shooter had been forced to change his ammunition clips more often.
Feinstein’s newly introduced bill would accomplish both by banning the sale and manufacture of more than 150 types of military-style weapons and banning magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.
New Gallup polling shows that while those two ideas are the least popular of the president’s recent proposals, they still have support from a majority of Americans. Specifically, 60% of Americans support a new assault weapons ban and 54% support limiting high capacity magazines.
When asked about why, in the face of such broad support, the proposals are considered unlikely to make it through Congress, Biden blamed the NRA’s habit of painting any measure as being part of a “slippery slope” while complaining politicians too often refused to consider reason. ”Both left and right sometimes take absolutist positions, and yet the vast majority of people agree on basic principles relating to gun safety,” he said.
He also argued the crime bill he helped to pass in 1994 almost worked “too well” because the reduction of crime over that period left lawmakers all too willing to let it expire. He said recent events have helped to spark another debate and that a consensus is beginning to emerge on the issue.
The vice president spent a good deal of time explaining his own take on the 2nd Amendment, arguing that ”The Constitution can put reasonable limitations on who can own and what can be owned.”
Biden will continue campaigning on behalf of the gun agenda tomorrow with a visit to Richmond, Va.
Watch the “Fireside Hangout”