- Biden's comments were meant to underscore the position that shotguns were sufficient for defense
- "So when the cops come to arrest me for shooting off the porch, I can tell 'em Joe said it's ok," wrote one online user
- The Obama administration has been pressing for gun reforms since the massacre in Newtown
Social media lit up Wednesday with reactions to Vice President Joe Biden's off-the-cuff remarks about fending off a would-be home intruder.
But unlike most debates about gun control, on which Biden is leading a White House task force, the online commentary largely centered on the advice he apparently once gave his wife.
"I said, Jill, if there's ever a problem just walk out on the balcony here ... put that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house," Biden said during an online question-and-answer session Tuesday.
His comments were likely intended to underscore the position that shotguns were sufficient for self-defense, rather than high-capacity or semi-automatic weapons like the AR-15. But they also unleashed a torrent of online reaction after conjuring up the image of Jill Biden hypothetically firing off rounds outside the vice president's home in Delaware.
"So when the cops come to arrest me for shooting off the porch, I can tell 'em Joe said it's ok," wrote one online user.
"The scariest part about his whole statement is that he is encouraging people to blindly fire off rounds at unknown noises and in unknown directions," said another.
The Obama administration has called on Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004, to restrict ammunition magazines to no more than 10 rounds, and to expand background checks to anyone buying a gun.
But the White House has met stiff opposition from congressional Republicans and the National Rifle Association, a powerful lobby group that opposes new regulations governing firearms.
"You don't need an AR-15," said Biden in the online forum. "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."
Online commentary was mixed in response.
"An AR-15 (is) easier to shoot than a shotgun, there's less recoil in a .223 than a 12 gauge," wrote one online user. "A shotgun is not for everybody. Even in smaller (gauges), the recoil is too much for many people, and buckshot isn't nearly as precise as a rifle shot," wrote another.
Others hailed the benefits of a shotgun because "it doesn't need to be aimed precisely" and that "one or two shots should do the trick."
"It's safer than pistols re: accidents at home, especially involving children," wrote one user. "Unfortunately, there are too many GUN NUTS out there w/vivid imaginations... who lie awake at night thinking up imaginary dangers."
In the online chat, Biden said he does not favor constitutional amendments to adjust the Second Amendment, which is cited by both proponents of and those opposed to new gun regulations.
But, he said, the Constitution "does allow the government to conclude that there are certain types of weapons that no one can legally own."
The limits are imposed for "public safety," Biden said.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday the nation needs to take sensible, common sense action to try to reduce "the scourge of gun violence in this country."
He declined to further comment on Biden's remarks, though he added that the vice president is a law-abiding gun owner who has both a 12-gauge and 20-gauge shotgun locked up in a safe in his Delaware home.
The Obama administration has been pressing for gun reforms since the December massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, where an AR-15-wielding gunman killed six adults and 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7.