Guns & Illegal Guns

Existing Guns & Illegal Guns

Vice President Joe Biden responds to Parents readers' questions on how to reduce gun violence considering how many guns are already on the streets, both legally and illegally.

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-Ellen Seidman, who's a blogger for, asks a question about the guns that are already out there. Some people say that gun control isn't going to help given all the guns that are already out there. What do you say to naysayers like that? -I'm not-- We're not talking about gun control. We're talking about gun safety. We're talking about making it safer for our children. The idea that it's a little bit like when they said-- you know, I was around a long time ago when we were taking lead out of gasoline, okay? There are a lot of cars like my car, Corvette I had as a young man; still have it, 1967 Corvette. It runs better on leaded gasoline. There were millions of cars in the road in 19-- early '70s when we banned lead in gasoline. Everybody said, "Why would you do that? You still had all these cars out there, all these cars out there that used leaded gasoline and have to use leaded gasoline for the engines to function." The answer was over time, over time, they will be off the market. The idea of not making us healthier by saying, "from this point on you can't have lead in gasoline," is a little like saying if in fact we know that magazines with 30 clips in them are of no value whatsoever in terms of your physical safety; you can get by with 10 clips-- 10 rounds in a clip, you can get by a shotgun; therefore, why not just keep these multiple magazines out there? Why not just keep them going? It will not solve the whole problem, but the truth of the matter is we shouldn't continue to make mistakes if we in fact acknowledge--if we think that having a-- that young man who was in a movie theater in Colorado having a case-- a shell case that-- a magazine that could hold 100 rounds, 100 rounds. So, I just think there are a lot of rational things we can do that will increase the prospect that fewer people will be the victim of gun violence and we should do them. -And what about illegal guns? Dan Stockel asks about illegally obtained weapons and what specifically you're going to do about getting those off the streets. -Well, there are-- there are 4 things. One is that to keep more from going on to the streets, we believe there should be universal background checks and everyone who purchases a weapon has to have a background check. Universal. Everyone. It's estimated. There is no hard data that 40 percent of all the weapons purchased today are purchased by avoiding a background check and that should end, number one. Number two, we think that in fact there should be a national gun trafficking legislation. When you go to your local police officer or your local police chief in the town you live in, big or small, and he will tell you the vast majority of the weapons recovered at a crime scene are either stolen weapons and/or they have been illegally-- they've been "lost" or stolen. Well, one of the things we think should be required is everyone who loses a weapon should be required to report it that they lost the weapon or that in fact their weapon was stolen. They should say they were stolen, helping the police be able to trace the gun found at a crime scene to get to the criminal by following through with the serial number that-- from the manufacturer-- it exists already in the law-- to determine who had possession of that gun, who committed the crime. And so, there's a number of things in a federal gun trafficking law that will help us deal with these stolen and lost weapons that are the ones used by and acquired by criminals. We may find that not all of them are stolen. Maybe they're illegally being sold on the side. Maybe they're in fact not lost. Maybe they were given to the criminal. And so, there's a number of things we can do to impact upon the use of weapons that are not legally purchased, that are stolen or lost in the hands of criminals.