As a Lawyer, Please Don’t Listen to Joe Biden’s Gun Advice

Joe Bartozzi, Please, for the love of all things precious to you and your family, do not listen to Joe Biden when it comes to using firearms to defend yourself.

His advice is dangerous both physically and legally. It’s going to get police killed and lull Americans into a false sense of security.

Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has been wrong on guns every time he mentions them. His latest is telling police that when they’re confronted with criminals demonstrating hostile intent with a weapon, they should just “shoot them in the leg.”

The advice would be humorous, if it weren’t so fraught with danger. To get full understanding, it’s important to see the entire quote of what he told African American community leaders at Bethel AME Church in Wilmington, Delaware.

“The idea that instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at ‘em with a knife or something, shoot ‘em in the leg instead of in the heart, is a very different thing,” Biden said.

Deadly Knives

This is lunacy. First, a criminal armed with a knife is, by definition, armed. That criminal that is closing the distance with an instrument intended to attack someone else, police officer or not, is demonstrating hostile intent with the capability to injure, maim or kill their intended victim. Everyone, not just police, has the inherent right at the moment to defend themselves. That includes using deadly force when confronted with deadly force.

More to the point, his advice puts officers’ lives at risk. Bill Johnson is the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations. He told Fox News that Biden’s description of “unarmed” knife-wielding attackers was “to the point of being deceitful.”

“Officers are not trained to ‘shoot somebody in the heart’ as Biden says, but rather to aim for the biggest part of the body, so as to be most likely to hit the person presenting the threat and not hit anybody else,” he said. “This always includes the condition that the officer or somebody else is in peril of death or great bodily harm, and certainly someone charging at you with a knife satisfies that requirement.”

Biden’s conflation of unarmed protesters and knife-wielding attackers is unethical legal fantasy.

“He’s not living in the real world because people with knives, those are deadly threats,” Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association National President Larry Cosme, told Fox News in an interview. “With all due respect to Mr. Biden, he’s mixing the two, ’unarmed person with a knife’ – I’ve never heard of an unarmed person with a knife.”

Cosme explained what any experienced marksman knows. The legs are a small target. They are also almost always in constant motion. Legs would be a very difficult target to strike and wouldn’t neutralize an attacker imposing deadly force.

If Biden was suggesting police officers “shoot to wound,” that’s terrible advice too. Any middle school biology class teaches the femoral artery runs down the leg. Strike that, and a person can bleed out in seconds. Police have, and do use, less-than-lethal means to gain control. Those are a variety of tools, including pain compliance, tasers, pepper spray and rubber bullets to name a few. They’ve been used legally and extensively to give police options before having to resort to deadly force. When a police officer must lawfully discharge a firearm, it is always deadly force. There must be a reason to use that level of force, like when someone is attacking you with a knife that could maim or kill you.

Legally Unsound

Biden should know better. Before he sat one heartbeat away from the presidency, he was a U.S. Senator. Before that, he was a U.S. Representative. He wrote laws. Before he wrote laws, he was a lawyer and was a public defender. He is supposed to know the legal impact of such insane suggestions.

It might be the law classes they taught when I earned my juris doctorate and passed the bar exam wildly differed from Biden’s, but it’s doubtful.

Biden has a track record of nonsensical legal advice. While pushing for a ban on modern sporting rifles, he infamously advised his wife if she was scared she should buy a double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts into the air without knowing where those shots would impact. That violates the several fundamental firearm safety rules, starting with one that states you should keep a firearm’s muzzle pointed in safe direction. That means not pointing a gun at anything you don’t intend to shoot. You must also know your target and what’s beyond it. Blindly firing two blast into the night sky is hardly good advice.

In fact, it’s downright illegal. A police officer explained to the media that even in your own home in Delaware, where Joe and Jill Biden live, you must believe your life is in danger to use deadly force, which is what Biden described. In fact, a Washington state man was convicted after he claimed the “Biden defense.” Jeffrey Barton, a 53-year-old from Clark County, Washington, did what Biden said when intruders entered his vehicle at 3 a.m., according to a Politico report. He walked over, punched one in the face and fired three shots in the air to scare off the intruders.

“I did what Joe Biden told me to do,” Barton explained. “I went outside and fired my shotgun in the air.”

He was slapped with a misdemeanor charge for illegally discharging a firearm. Prosecutors eventually dismissed that charge, but he was convicted of obstructing a police officer when he didn’t comply with an officer’s command to show his hands.

Biden’s Gun Blunders

The former vice president isn’t only ignoring sound jurisprudence, he ignores the bounds of technology with it comes to guns too. Biden led President Barack Obama’s gun control task force which had adopting so-called smart guns as a stated goal. The Justice Department took up the task, but even after sinking $12.6 million to come up with a working prototype, the program failed. The National Institutes of Justice said no safe and reliable product existed and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive’s chief of the Firearms and Ammunition Technology Division Earl Griffith said, “Some critics out there would say we have the technology and it would work, but I’ll tell you we don’t think the technology is there yet.”

That didn’t stop Biden from making the outlandish claim on the campaign trail that, if elected, he would demand DNA-enabled so-called “smart guns” capable of firing by only those who have a biological match.

“If I get elected president of the United States of America with your help, if that happens, guns, we have the capacity now in a James Bond-style to make sure no one can pull a trigger unless their DNA and fingerprint is on it,” Biden said in a tony fundraiser on New York City’s Upper East Side. “No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger.”

He’s also called the firearm industry “the enemy” from the debate stage. “Our enemy is the gun manufacturers, not the NRA, the gun manufacturers,” Biden said.

Biden’s notions on guns and gun use are beyond reckless. His words are dangerous. Please don’t listen to him.

Joe Bartozzi is the President and CEO of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the firearm industry trade association.