While many Americans feel that Stephen Willeford saved lives by shooting the mass murderer Devin Patrick Kelley and ending his vile rampage on November 5, potential 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden believes otherwise.
Last Monday, during a Today Show television interview, Mr. Biden dismissed the actions of Mr. Willeford and claimed that he should never have had access to an AR-15 rifle, which he used to effectively neutralize the killer as he emerged from the church.
A woman put Joe Biden on the spot when she asked him whether he could justify the standard Democratic Party stance on gun control, in light of the fact that Stephen Willeford used his currently legal firearm to end the rampage that left 26 people dead in Sutherland Springs, Texas.
Senior Democrats have long argued that so-called “assault weapons” like the AR-15 are “weapons of war” that should be banned from civilian ownership.
Mr. Biden refused to acknowledge the issue of Mr. Willeford saving lives and instead moved straight to the topic of gun control: “Well, first of all, the kind of gun being carried, he shouldn’t be carrying,” he responded. He then shifted the conversation to the federal ban on “assault weapons” which was in effect between 1994 and 2004 and which he says he personally authored.
Stephen Willeford is unlikely to have been able to end the killer’s rampage had he only possessed a handgun. According to the NRA-ILA, shortly after the massacre Mr. Willeford said in an interview: “If I had run out of the house with a pistol and faced a bulletproof vest, kevlar and helmets, it might have been futile.”
Biden continued to evade the question: “Number two. It’s just rational to say certain people shouldn’t have guns. Now the fact that some people with guns are legally able to acquire a gun, and they turn out to be crazy after the fact, that’s life, and there’s nothing you can do about that. But we can save a lot of lives, and we’ve stopped tens of thousands of people who shouldn’t have guns from getting guns.”
Mr. Willeford does not appear to be “crazy”. He was able to end the Sutherland Springs church massacre because he is a certified NRA instructor, licensed gun owner, and regularly trains with an AR-15 through target practice. Devin Kelley, who should have been a “prohibited possessor”, obtained his weapons legally, due to failures in reporting to the background check system.
In spite of what many gun control advocacy groups claim, semi-automatic rifles like the AR-15 are not the same as fully-automatic military weapons. They are not “weapons of war”. The standard rifles used by the U.S. military have “select fire” capability which allows for semi-auto, fully-automatic or burst-fire. The AR-15 is a civilian semi-auto only variant and is not used by the military.
Furthermore, since 1991 there has been a dramatic increase in the number of semi-automatic rifle owners in the United States. Yet by 2012, violent crime had decreased by 49 percent from that year, with the murder rate dropping by 52 percent — its lowest in 49 years.
In comparison, the United Kingdom has some of the toughest gun control laws in the world and police are currently holding a two-week firearm surrender period. In spite of this, U.K. gun crime surged by an estimated 42 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Criminals also appear to vastly prefer handguns. Reuters reports that according to a 2014 Small Arms Survey study, between 2002 and 2012, 77 percent of weapons seized by police from felons and gang members in eight major U.S. cities were handguns, not semi-automatic rifles.
According to a recent Gallup poll, just 36 percent of U.S. citizens now support a ban on “assault weapons”, indicating that Joe Biden holds an unpopular opinion that could harm his presidential bid.
With the recent deluge of sexual assault allegations against prominent politicians and celebrities, several left-leaning news outlets have criticized the idea of Joe Biden running for President in 2020, mainly due to his recorded inappropriate behavior around women and children.
Tucker is a foreign correspondent and media analyst for Not Liberal.