Back in 2013, Joe Biden participated in a Facebook town hall hosted by Parents Magazine. During the townhall, Biden recommended people “buy a shotgun” instead. He said he told his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, that if there was ever a problem in their neighborhood, she should walk out on the balcony and fire two warning blasts from a double-barreled shotgun. This is truly nuts! Watch the video below:
The problem with Biden’s remarks is, what he suggested is illegal in most states in most instances. US News and World Report explained at the time:
However, Delaware law would likely make his suggestion illegal—unless the shots were fired in self-defense in a truly life-threatening situation.
A sergeant with the Wilmington, Del., police department explained to U.S. News that city residents are not allowed to fire guns on their property.
The sergeant, who preferred not to be identified, said that Wilmington residents are also not allowed to shoot trespassers. “On your property you can’t just shoot someone,” he said. “You have to really feel that your life is being threatened.”
Defense attorney John Garey—a former Delaware deputy attorney general—agreed, and added that several criminal charges might result if Jill Biden took her husband’s advice.
“In Delaware you have to be in fear of your life to use deadly force,” Garey said. “There’s nothing based on his scenario alone” indicating a reason to fear imminent death, he noted.
Garey said that under Biden’s scenario, Jill Biden could be charged with aggravated menacing, a felony, and reckless endangering in the first degree.
“You cannot use deadly force to protect property” in Delaware, added Garey.
“It is not uncommon” for people to be charged with crimes under similar circumstances, he said. “I’ve seen cases where lawful citizens have used guns outside their homes and they end up arrested.”
Rob Wiltbank, a gun rights advocate who founded Delaware Open Carry in 2008, told U.S. News he agrees with the vice president that a shotgun would be good for home protection, but he was also troubled by the hypothetical.
“It would be incredibly irresponsible of a gun owner to blindly discharge a firearm into the air,” said Wiltbank. “What goes up, must come down and this specific behavior has been the cause of many negligent homicides over the years.”
Tom Shellenberger, a lawyer who serves as a spokesman for the Delaware State Sportsmen’s Association, told U.S. News that Biden’s security tip was “the worst type of advice.”
“I am a member of the Delaware Bar, as is Vice President Biden,” noted Shellenberger. “There are a number of statutory restrictions that could be violated by shooting a shotgun ‘off the porch.'”
In addition to felony charges, Shellenberger cited the “Discharge of a firearm within 15 yards of a road (7 Del.C. § 719), a misdemeanor,” and “Violation of the residential dwelling safety zone as set forth in 7 Del.C. § 723, also a misdemeanor.”
“Beyond the potential criminal liability, it is simply bad advice,” added Shellenberger. “Not only does blasting blindly away put innocent persons at risk, it also tells the bad guys where you are and that you are armed. In most circumstances, it might be better if that comes as a surprise to the bad guys.”