Reflections: Joe Biden Speaks to Parents About Gun Safety

I had the privilege of sitting down with Vice President Joe Biden last week at the White House (well, technically the Old Executive Office Building behind the president’s actual house). The topic was gun safety and reducing gun violence, the questions came from you, our readers and Facebook fans, and the venue was a live video feed carried on our Facebook page as well as the White House website.

As you can see from watching the video of the interview, Biden’s answers were thorough, substantive–and occasionally unexpected. He sparked a media frenzy with his advice to “buy a shotgun” instead of an assault weapon, a remark that was picked up and replayed on major news shows, political sites, and in newspapers nationwide.

But if all you know of the event is the shotgun remark, it’s worth watching or reading more of our discussion. The interview also addressed school safety, guns at home and on playdates, and the effects of violent video games. I found his comments about that last issue particularly interesting: He pointed out that the federal government is legally barred from funding research on gun violence, and so we simply don’t have enough data to make a judgment about the effects of violent media on spurring gun violence.

Biden and some members of the media expressed surprise that these questions came from Parents readers. But these are the questions you are interested in, and they deal with that most fundamental of needs–protecting our families. Some of you define this as the right to own whatever gun you want while others see it as restricting the types of guns that are allowed. But as Rachel Maddow astutely put it, when you have the ear of the Vice President, Americans (you, our readers) will ask “hard questions” about policy and public safety.

As for the substance of the shotgun remark, Biden has said similar things before, and he’s always made clear that he is an advocate for gun rights even as he pursues restrictions on certain types of weapons and ammunition. So it didn’t strike me immediately as big news, even as it did surprise me with the forwardness and bluntness of the advice. But within an hour or so, it had gone viral, and I spent much of my trip back home to N.Y. reading and watching the first wave of coverage.

I am grateful that the Vice President made time to speak with us about this essential issue. It’s not every day that the VP sits down with a representative from the parenthood-focused media. It is a sign of the power and influence that you, the moms and dads of America, wield. Your voices matter to those who are shaping our country’s policies, so keep making those voices heard.

See the whole interview with Joe Biden about gun safety and reducing gun violence.

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