Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden just said that police officers, if confronted by a knife-wielding attacker, should “shoot ‘em in the leg instead of the heart.”
Actually, the entire quote from Biden, who gave this advice in an address to black community leaders in Wilmington, Del., is even worse: “The idea that instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at ‘em with a knife or something, shoot ‘em in the leg instead of in the heart, is a very different thing.”
What was that? Biden said an “unarmed person” with a “knife”?
Biden also said, “There are a lot of things that can change” with police training.
In such a life-or-death situation—and a bad guy coming with a knife is clearly life or death—police officers have long been trained to appreciate what has been called the “reactionary gap.” An assailant can cover a lot of ground in the time it takes an officer to react, pull their pistol and accurately shoot. Asking them to shoot a leg, instead of center body, isn’t just unrealistic; it is advice that would get police officers killed.
The concept of the “reactionary gap” has also been called “the 21-foot rule.” The development of this idea has been credited to Lt. John Tueller. As a firearms instructor with the Salt Lake City Police Department, he worked on this concept in the 1980s. Tueller determined that it is possible for an attacker to cover 21 feet before an officer can draw and accurately shoot the bad guy. This was hardly a scientific study, but it makes an important point about reaction time and training.
In the heart-pounding moments an officer would have in such a situation, shooting for a leg would require them to aim for a much smaller, moving target; regardless, a gunshot wound to a leg can still be fatal to the attacker if their femoral artery is hit. The entire fanciful idea is unrealistic and dangerous.
Biden clearly doesn’t know any of this.
This is why Bill Johnson, the executive director of the National Association of Police Organizations, told Fox News: “Former VP Biden’s remark is not just indecipherable (‘an unarmed person coming at 'em with a knife’?!), it’s also misleading to the point of being deceitful.”
Perhaps Biden will next tell officers to shoot weapons out of the hands of attackers, just as they do in the movies. That’d be cool, right?
Biden has, of course, said a lot of other misleading, outright wrong and dangerous things about guns.
“You don’t need an AR-15. It’s harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact, you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun. Buy a shotgun,” Biden said in a town hall event.
Biden is wrong, of course. An AR-15 is easy to aim and use. It’s quick, accurate and, in a worst-case scenario, who is to say how many rounds you’ll need?
During an interview with Field and Stream, Biden gave this advice to those who want to stop would-be intruders: “Just fire the shotgun through the door.”
On so-called “smart guns,” Biden said, “A lot could change, for example, if every gun could only be fired by the person who purchased it.”
A “smart-gun” mandate, of course, would be a total gun ban of all the popular and reliable makes and models of firearms now on the market.
Some might dismiss all of this as quirky rhetoric from a politician who is clearly out of his area of expertise. But Biden is hardly like some uncle with a loose filter and an opinion on everything. Biden, on his official campaign website, is telling us he would, if elected president of the United States, ban our most-popular firearms, push for forced confiscations of guns and try to pass mandatory licensing of all gun owners. He would also nominate judges, including any justices to possible openings on the U.S. Supreme Court, who would vote to gut the Second Amendment of our individual right to keep and bear arms.