Debates 2020

Biden Suggests Bernie Sanders Partially Responsible for 150 Million Gun Deaths, Argues for Renewed Assault Weapons Ban

The former vice president's accusations require a couple of footnotes.


Former Vice President Joe Biden touted his record on gun control and massively exaggerated the impact of gun violence during a clumsy attack on Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) at tonight's Democratic debate.

"I'm the only one who ever got it done nationally," Biden said in response to a question about why voters should trust him to tackle an alleged "gun crisis" in America. "I beat the NRA twice. I got assault weapons banned. I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds, I got them eliminated."

Biden also noted his support for the Brady Act, which mandated a waiting period for firearm purchases and established the federal background check system.

This was all a wind-up for Biden's attack on Sanders, who he faulted for voting in favor of legislation that prevents gun makers from being sued should their products be used by third parties to commit crimes.

"My friend on my right and others have given into gun manufacturers absolute immunity," said Biden, before engaging in some characteristic rambling. "150 million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability. More than all the wars, including Vietnam."

There were a couple of things wrong with that statement. The Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, to which Biden was referring, was passed in 2005, not 2007.

Even going by that earlier date, 150 million Americans (a little under half the country's current population) have not, in fact, been killed as a result of gun violence. Biden likely meant 150,000 people have been killed in gun homicides in the 15 years since Sanders' vote, which is roughly accurate.

Sanders responded by stressing that he had a 'D' rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), and that he was in favor of increased background checks and closing the much-ballyhooed "gun show loophole," a reference to the fact that people do not need to undergo federal background checks when buying a firearm from a private seller in the same state.

Biden touting his support for the federal assault weapons ban obscures the fact that researchers have found the law likely had no impact on crime rates and that violent crime rates have been steadily declining for decades.

NEXT: Bloomberg Supports Charter Schools, Deeply Vexes Sanders and Warren

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. I think Biden is unfamiliar with the way socialists cause gun deaths.

  2. “I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds, I got them eliminated.” — Biden

    Well, excepting the millions of them already in use at the time, which are still there, and not to mention the millions more manufactured since the ban on new ones was lifted, none of which had any effect on the homicide rate, anyway. But hey, what can one expect from someone who has trouble recalling what office he is pretending to run for….

    1. I really want to see the crooked old idiot die in prison. Along with his son, who reportedly might enjoy the loving he would get there.

      1. Will you settle for him dying in a nursing home, not recognizing his family? Because that’s the likely scenario at this point, the guy is declining so fast I’ll be surprised if he makes it to the convention.

  3. Biden is so proud ….. before the fall.

  4. How many millions have been killed by assault weapons?

    1. Well, I’m sure millions have been killed by “assault weapons,” but only if we count the ones used by state actors.

    2. If you are talking about semi-auto rifles of the AR and AK varieties, FBI Uniform Crime Reports does not do a breakdown by make or model.

      FBI: UCR 2018 Crime in the United States
      Expanded Homicide Data Table 8 Murder Victims by Weapon used
      297 Rifles

      For contrast, in 2018 the table shows
      672 Personal Weapons (hands, fists, feet, etc.)

      You are about twice as likely to be murdered in America by an unarmed assailant than by an assailant armed with any sort of rifle.

      Most shooting murders are committed with ordinary handguns, not military style rifles.

      The number of gun murders in the 14 years since the act protecting gun makers from being sued for criminal use of their firearm is less than the number of gun murders in the 14 years before before the act.

      We need a crime policy aimed at violent people, not a War on Gun Owners.

      1. All TRUE; I became familiar with these statistics following the Newtown shooting and subsequent outrage. They haven’t changed in the past several years.

        But, you must know, facts really do not matter to these people; not nearly as much as emotion and using that to exploit a tragedy to get more control.

    3. Considering that 150 million have been regular guns, the number surely must be in the billions

    4. since ALL long guns of all types are used to kill about 4% of all people murdered by guns (not including polic,e self-defense, etc, suicide, etc), and since the “dread assault weapon” fantasy comprises somewhere near 20% of all long guns, it would seem the likely number killed by “assault weapons” would be point eight percent of the likely accurate CORRECTED figure of 150,000 killed since 2005….. or, about 1200.

      NOW let’s us try and estimate how many iinnocent lives were SAVED by the fact that the putative victim, or some civilainFirst Responder, was present and used THEIR “assault weapon” to prevent or put an end to a crime being committed with an “assault weapon”.

      Then, once we consider the obvious FACT that anyone wanting to perpetrate general mayhem in a crowded place and NOT able to procure an “assault weapon” can easily default to the tool by far most common for the killing of other people, the handgun, These are FAR more readily available “on the street” than are ‘”assault rifles”. They are also by far the preferred tool, as they are easy to carry concealed, to hide, to dispose of, to hand to someone else. And, at the ranges most murders take place, they are every bit as effective.

      Bottom line, Biden is so full of holes he’d be handy in an Italian Mamas kitchen for straining the spaghetti. He’d make a fine water-g0-spaghetti-stop device.

      1. Wikipedia article citing reliable sources:
        The Virginia Tech shooting was a school shooting that occurred on April 16, 2007, at West Ambler Johnston Hall and Norris Hall at the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, in Blacksburg, Virginia. Seung-Hui Cho, an undergraduate student at the university and a U.S. resident of South Korean origin, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others with two semi-automatic pistols. … It is the deadliest school shooting in the history of the United States [as of 28 Feb 2020]”

        Weapons used were Glock 19 pistol with 15 round magazines and Walther P22 pistol with 10 round magazines, standard length magazines that don’t protrude beyond the grip.

        I think the intent of the killer is far more important than the type of gun used. I also think identifying persons expressing motive and intent to do harm and providing security to deny opportunity to act to bad actors unknown would do more than an AWB felonizing millions of owners of AK or AR rifles who intend no harm and have done no harm. One could wreak havoc in a gun free zone with a Biden-promoted double barrel shotgun and a couple canvas shoulder bags with 25 or 30 rounds 00 buck each.

  5. That senile old bastard can’t retire soon enough.

    That statement could apply to either one of those kooks, but in this instance, seriously, get fucked Biden.

  6. Biden was of course referring to the likely death toll if Sanders gets elected.

  7. 150 million Americans killed by guns since 2007? and yet our population is 320+ million. We must have a phenomenal birth rate to replace those losses.

    1. Which is pretty impressive considering all the babies he and his friends like to murder.

      1. Which makes me wonder if we now need jagged forceps control. How many infant deaths could be prevented by banning jagged forceps?

        1. You need to go after the forceps with scary looking “tactical” features.

    2. I doubt Sanders himself even noticed the error. And if he did, he sure as hell knew better than to voice it given the intended audience. He’d probably prefer people assume it’s 150 million deaths.

    3. Maybe way more illegals got in than we realized.

    4. Centers for Disease Control, Deaths in America 2017
      CDC Number of deaths: 2,813,503
      US Census Total USA population: approx 325,980,000
      CDC Death rate: 863.8 deaths per 100,000 population (or 1 of every 116 people)

      CoD US Leading causes of death:
      1. Heart disease: 647,457
      2. Cancer: 599,108
      3. Accidents (unintentional injuries): 169,936
      4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 160,201
      5. Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 146,383
      6. Alzheimer’s disease: 121,404
      7. Diabetes: 83,564
      8. Influenza and pneumonia: 55,672
      9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,633
      10. Intentional self-harm (suicide): 47,173
      11. Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis: 41,743
      12. Septicemia: 40,922
      13. Essential hypertension and hypertensive renal disease: 35,316
      14. Parkinson disease: 31,963
      15. Pneumonitis due to solids and liquids: 20,108
      16: Assault (homicide): 19,510

      Source: Deaths: Leading Causes for 2017, table 1 (and text) CDC notes that Assault (homicide) is no longer in the top 15 causes of death in America. Homicide per year is way down since 2005.

      1. And take a few Democratic run cities out of the homicide equation, say Baltimore, St Louis, Detroit, Chicago…and we have a homicide rate along the lines of France.

      2. Aside, the homicide rate is low, but what in the hell changed in the US between 2015, ’16, and those figures? The death rates for those previous years was in the 7.2-7.3 per 1000 range. Now, it’s 8.6? Population aging out?

        Oh, and note the 65,000 ish figure for “pneumonia.” Betcha that one changes a tad for 2020 and 2021.

    5. In a better world, no one would be eligible to hold office, or even to vote, if they couldn’t pass a basic math test.

  8. The old bastard is batshit crazy. That has to be the longest string of lies he’s strung together since he pinned the Legion of Honor medal on that 10 star navy general while crawling out of a ravine in Burma after being arrested for kissing Nelson Mandela.

    1. Nice. Brian Williams and Hillary would be proud.

  9. If guns are so evil and dangerous, why do they all seek to be surrounded by them for the rest of their lives?
    We’re I a moderator, I would ask each candidate, ” Will you promise to disarm your taxpayer funded armed security detail, prior to imposing any gun control legislation, if elected “?
    And the obligatory follow up, “doesn’t that make you a fucking hypocrite”?

    1. Were I a moderator, I would ask each candidate:
      “From 1953 to 1968, I grew up under local option prohibition. I have observed that when you ban something that people feel they have a right to, that benefits them, that their use does no harm to others, be it alcohol, marihuana, guns, comic books, erotica, or abortion, all you do is create widespread support for underground markets that are likely to pander to abusers. I ask you, Candidate X, do you hold stock in the black market or otherwise benefit from bootlegging?”

  10. ★Makes $140 to $180 consistently online work and I got $16894 in one month electronic acting from home.I am a step by step understudy and work essentially one to two or three hours in my additional time.Everybody will complete that obligation and monline akes extra cash by simply open this link……Read MoRe

  11. I earned $5000 last month by working online just for 5 to 8 hours on my laptop and this was so easy that i myself could not believe before working on this site. If You too want to earn such a big money then come and join us.➥➥➥ Read More

    1. When were magazines limited to 10 rounds nationally? I could swear I haven’t had any problem getting larger mags than that in the past 15 years

      1. The Federal 1994-2004 Assault Weapon Ban was national. Where were you then?
        New magazines over 10 rounds had to be stamped “For Law Enforcement Only” and sales were verboten to us mere subjects.

        The preban magazines, such as the 30 rounder that came with my 1943 IBM M1 Carbine, were grandfathered and the tell was supposed to be that they weren’t stamped 4LEO.

        As the sunset of the Assault Weapon Ban trial approached in 2004, both the Centers For Disease Control and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences did reviews of bona fide empirical academic research (peer reviewed criminology, not op-ed propaganda) and found no measurable crime control benefit from the Assault Weapon Ban or any other gun control policy, including “Buy-Backs”, banning legal carry, or permitting legal carry. There was no evidence gun laws aimed at legal gun owners impacted bad behavior by people with criminal intent or motives. There were not enough votes in Congress in 2004 to renew the Clinton Era AWB even though George W. Bush said he would sign it if Congress sent it to him. (W’s dad, G.H.W. resigned his NRA membership when NRA joined ACLU and others in denouncing the jack booted thug tactics at Ruby Ridge and Waco in 1992 and 1993.)

        1. GHW Bush banned the importation of “assault weapons” in 1989 by executive order and that is still in effect.

          1. That was actually what prompted me to join the NRA; I’d been saving up for a nice H&K 91, and just as I was about to place the order, Bush banned its importation.

            I ended up spending the money on a life membership, instead.

            1. The rule of unintended consequences.

              I re-upped with NRA when I found the claims the Bradys made against NRA member Leroy Pyle were false and made a point of finding enough spare change to renew my membership every year since then just because (which aint always easy since winter heat bills, city & county property taxes, tags for the truck and car, gun club dues, all fall due at that time of year.)

              GHW Bush pushed the military weapons import ban.
              WC Clinton pushed the military weapons domestic ban.
              ” The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.” — George Orwell, Animal Farm.

        2. New magazines over 10 rounds had to be stamped “For Law Enforcement Only” and sales were verboten to us mere subjects.

          I don’t understand this at all. I have been advised by progressives these are weapons of war. Are peace officers at war with the public they protect and serve? If not, perhaps there is a legitimate use for them.

          1. (Irony meter pegged) Gotcha. But:
            Are peace officers at war with the public they protect and serve?
            Elect progressives, and the LEOs that don’t quit will be.

      2. 1994-2004
        Magazines produced before the law took effect were legal to posess and sell and “law enforcement only” mags produced when the ban was in effect became legal when the law expired. When the law was in effect “high capacity” handguns were all shipped with 10 round mags.

        1. In the weeks leading up to the ban, the factories were running non-stop churning out those magazines, so the supply didn’t get tight for years.

        2. [irony] I have a Browning Hi-Power a relative brought back from WWII, complete with Wehrmacht markings, which now feeds from three “LEO/Mil-only” magazines. They work perfectly well together.

  12. Or we could outlaw bicycles, and save four times as many people as are murdered with rifles each year.

    1. FBI UCR: Personal weapons were used to murder 672 times in 2018, versus rifles used to murder 297 times. (Only a fraction of all rifles qualify as assault weapons.) You would save more lives by banning personal weapons than by banning assault rifles. Damn the cost, if it saves just one life, it’s worth it.

      FBI describes “personal weapons” as hands, fist, feet, etc.

    2. Swimming pools, that exist for nothing more than allowing some privileged person the ability to float around like a hippo, kill more kids than guns.

      1. I agree, which candidate is in favor of banning assault water?

      2. Kids also drown in laundry tubs, sinks, bathtubs, hot tubs, buckets, lakes and rivers.

      3. Long time ago Don B. Kates noted “… the 13 children under age five who died in handgun accidents may be compared to the 381 children [under age five] who drowned in swimming pools in 1980.”

        Given that more people own guns than own swimming pools, you have to do the math for comparative danger of owning a gun versus owning a swimming pool.

        “….if you own a gun and have a swimming pool in the yard, the swimming pool is almost 100 times more likely to kill a child than the gun is.” — Steve Levitt, “Pools more dangerous than guns”, op-ed, Chicago Sun-Times, 28 Jul 2001.

        [sarcasm] I guess the swimming poll lobby has paid off politicians to ignore the value of common-sense reasonable pool safety laws modeled on the common-sense reasonable handgun safety laws of District of Columbia and Chicago (bans) that were incorrectly repealed by a supreme court packed with stooges of the gun lobby under Literally Hitler and Genghis Khan. [/sarcasm]

  13. I remember how proud Joseph Biden was when the Gun Free School Zone Act 1990 was passed, making it a felony to be in possession of a firearm within 1,000 feet of school property.

    Compare the number of mass shootings at schools before the GFSZA 1990 with the number and body count after. Can we spell unintended consequences?

    My home was 600 ft from Thomas Jefferson Elementary. There were of course loopholes allowing possession of firearms in residences within GFSZ. And elaborate rules on how I could take my guns to hunt o0r target practice.

    1. Joe Biden’s also proud of how he negotiated a climate deal with a fucking ghost. I really hope someone in the next debate starts calling him out on his mental deficiencies.

  14. I wouldn’t doubt Biden actually meant 150M people have died from guns for a few reasons. 1) He is not very bright. 2) He thinks he is running for Senator. 3) Did any of the moderators push back on that number?

    No. Either they think it sounds correct or don’t want to embarrass Crazy Joe or better yet it plays into their narrative.

    1. It could also partly be because they’re used to these political hacks just tossing out bullshit numbers that they don’t listen to the substance too much. It would have been glorious if someone had called him out on it

  15. “Biden Suggests Bernie Sanders Partially Responsible for 150 Million Gun Deaths

    In the background, Biden’s wife could be heard firing shotgun blasts into the sky because someone came down their driveway.

    1. reading the article, I’d think that an AR-15 shooting 5.56 would be easier to control than a double-barreled 12 gauge for a 68-year-old lady, but then again their current secret service detachment would probably be even more effective.

  16. Tyrants need gun control more than anyone else, so they can rule with impunity.

    1. Won’s someone please think of the 150 million Americans who die because of assault weapons every year?

  17. Keep hoisting those petards, Jackass Regime.

  18. So are we just not gonna talk about how Bloomberg was doing his best Lois Griffin impression last night with 9/11?

  19. Short thinking Democrats would like to make gun manufacturers liable for misuse of their products. The thinking is that people could then sue them out of existence.
    Problem solved, until the mother of all black markets starts up.

  20. DOJ SAYS GUN SHOW LOOPHOLE DOES NOT EXIST, BERNIE. I capitalized that so he’d see it. It seems the only way less likely to result in a criminal with a gun, is robbing a gun store. And that takes so much balls, I almost admire it.

    1. it’s ballsy alright

    2. I notice Bureau of Justice Statistics changed some categories in the 2016 prison survey from the Firearms Use by Offenders model used in 1991, 1997, and 2004.

      I notice that for every one prisoner who reported using a retail source, about nine used gray or black market sources.

      We are now officially at about 10% retail purchase, 90% gray or black market.

      2016 Sources for firearms for state offenders who carried or used a gun in their last offense

      0.8% Gun show

      Democrats are going to save us from the gun show loophole (gun sales at gun shows are supposed to be 60% licensed dealers who do background checks, and 40% private owners who don’t (and are denied access to the BG check system by law).

      Let’s see, 40% of 0.8% is 0.32%.

      Of course gun control can’t touch the gray or black markets, like
      43.2% Off the street/underground market [a]

      Retail purchase or trade as source for state inmates according to BJS prisoner surveys:
      1991 20.8%
      1997 14.0%
      1997 11.3%
      2016 9.7%

      More restrictions on legal market! Get it to 0.0% legal market, 100% black market for criminals and everyone else!! It worked so well with alcohol and marijuana, let’s do it to guns!!!

      a. Off the street/underground market: Illegal sources of firearms that include markets for stolen goods, middlemen for stolen goods, criminals or criminal enterprises, or individuals or groups involved in sales of illegal drugs.

      [I believe the old BJS FUO categories were listed separately as Drug dealer/off street and Fence/black market.]

  21. If I’m ging to be a political pariah and scapegoat for all the ills of society of “assult weapons”, then god-damnit I want free access to actual assault weapons.

  22. Start now earning extra $16,750 to $19,000 per month by doing an easy home based job in part time only. Last month i have got my 3rd paycheck of $17652 by giving this job only 3 hrs a day online on my Mobile. Every person can now get this today and makes extra cash by follow details her==►Read MoRe 

  23. I am making 80$ an hour… After been without work for 8 months, I started freelancing over this website and now I couldn’t be happier. After 3 months on my new job my monthly income is around 15k a month… Cause someone helped me telling me about this job now I am going to help somebody else… Read More

  24. How about we just shoot those that try to commit mass-murder.

    Oh; whoops. I lost my gun rights so I guess the criminal wins.

  25. Was that quote right?

    “I got magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds, I got them eliminated.” — Joe Biden

    Joe Biden eliminated magazines that could not hold more than 10 rounds?

    1. Did Reason misquote Biden, or was Biden bragging about banning magazines that held only 1 to 10 rounds?

      During the 1994-2004 Assault weapon ban, I cut down an unreliable after-market 40 round magazine and made a reliable 10 round magazine of it. Seems like I went the wrong direction, and should have taken my 5 round magazine (required by law for hunting big game) and extended it to more than 10.

      Anybody got link to a transcript of the debate?
      Or is that like finding a transcript of the ravings of a madman in Bedlam, no one thought it worth preserving?

  26. “150 million people have been killed since 2007 when Bernie voted to exempt the gun manufacturers from liability.” — Joe Biden

    How many people have been killed by alcohol since the repeal of Prohibition?

  27. Seriously, democrats—you have left yourselves with a choice between a full-blown communist that will destroy all freedom on Earth and a dementia-ridden public pervert that will be forced to bow out to his VP. You had 4 years, and this trash is the best you got? You couldn’t find one decent candidate that identifies as a dem. Pathetic.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.