Misfire: Joe Biden's 'Shotgun vs. Rifle' Comments

Karl Rehn owns KR Training, one of Central Texas’s premiere training academies. They offer an array of beginner through advanced tactical courses. He is a certified police firearms trainer. Rehn believes Biden has no credentials to comment on the topic of self-defense:

There’s no evidence that he’s ever attended training in the use of a defensive shotgun or a defensive rifle. A politician making a statement at a press conference does not make it true, and in this case the data overwhelmingly contradicts his uninformed opinion.

Rehn notes the distinction between earlier 20th century gun culture and its more modern manifestation, and that anti-rights politicians are using divide-and-conquer tactics to destroy the civil right of self-defense:

Biden’s statement was made as part of the current gun control movement’s political strategy to divide Gun Culture 1.0 (rural and older hunting and fishing types who typically own bolt action rifles, pump shotguns, and double action revolvers) from Gun Culture 2.0 (urban and younger gun owners who typically own AR-15's, Glocks, and other guns on the to-be-banned list). Rifle bullets can travel 2-3 times farther than anything fired from a shotgun, so Gun Culture 1.0 people might agree that a shotgun is “safer.”

Rehn cited research showing that when using self-defense ammunition, AR-15 rifles have less wall penetration than pistol and shotgun ammunition. (Here, here, and here.)

In Rehn’s Defensive Long Gun course, he cites nine reasons why modern sporting rifles are safer than shotguns for home defense, including crucial criteria like sporting rifles’ higher capacity and lower recoil. Said Rehn:

The trend, over the past decade, has been for law enforcement officers to transition from a “patrol shotgun” to a “patrol rifle” (typically an AR-15 with a red dot sight), because law enforcement experts recognize all the advantages listed in the course description.

There is reason to doubt the constitutionality of Biden’s desire to ban modern sporting rifles. In District of Columbia v. Dick Anthony Heller, the U.S. Supreme Court concluded:

The very text of the Second Amendment implicitly recognizes the pre-existence of the right and declares only that it “shall not be infringed.”

We also recognize another important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms. Miller said … that the sorts of weapons protected were those “in common use at the time.”

As the quotations earlier in this opinion demonstrate, the inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right. The [District of Columbia] handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of “arms” that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose.

[T]he enshrinement of constitutional rights necessarily takes certain policy choices off the table. These include the absolute prohibition of handguns held and used for self-defense in the home. [emphasis added]