During a Facebook Town Hall on Tuesday, Vice President Joe Biden may have inadvertently advised his wife to break the law when he recalled telling her to shoot a shotgun on their property in response to a potential threat.
Biden claimed that he had told his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, to fire warning shots with the family shotgun if she felt threatened:
[I]f you want to protect yourself, get a double barreled shotgun. I promise you, as I told my wife, we live in an area that's wooded and somewhat secluded. I said, Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put [up] that double barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.
But the law in his home state, Delaware, could make such a scenario illegal, U.S. News & World Report notes.
Defense attorney and former Delaware Deputy Attorney General John Garey told U.S. News that the state had strict regulations on when citizens were permitted to shoot guns on their property.
"In Delaware, you have to be in fear of your life to use deadly force," Garey said. "You cannot use deadly force to protect your property."
U.S. News also spoke with a number of officials in Delaware who supported the claim that Jill Biden could face legal repercussions, potentially even a felony, if she followed her husband's suggestion.
While some claim that firing warning shots is an unwise practice because of the danger of falling bullets, Slate reported in 2011 that regular shells fired into the air are unlikely to be lethal. In Biden's scenario, his wife would arguably be shooting smaller pellets into the air at 90 degrees, rendering the falling piece even less lethal. Of course, none of this makes the shot itself any less illegal under Delaware law.
Following the Newtown shootings, Biden took to the road in an effort to spread the administration's push for stricter gun laws. As part of his campaign for anti-gun violence measures, however, Biden has also repeatedly suggested that shotguns are preferable to assault weapons for home safety. Speaking in January, Biden responded to a questioner who wanted to know if guns might be necessary during a natural disaster.
"A shotgun would keep you a lot safer -- a double barrel shotgun -- than the assault weapon in somebody's hand who doesn't know how to use it, even one who does know how to use it," he said.