Biden Invokes 'Black Helicopter' Crowd in NPR Interview

Vice president says administration not interested in taking away people's guns.

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Vice President Joseph Biden speaks following a roundtable discussion on gun safety at Girard College in Philadelphia, Feb. 11, 2013.
Vice President Joseph Biden speaks following a roundtable discussion on gun safety at Girard College in Philadelphia, Feb. 11, 2013.

Another day, another donnybrook for Vice President Joe Biden. This time, the topic is gun control.

Biden jumped back into the fray during an interview with NPR in which he offered his analysis of gun owners' culture with remarks likely to inflame some in that community.

He defended prohibiting the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines for certain weapons, as the administration proposes. "It in no way violates anyone's constitutional right," the vice president said in the interview broadcast Wednesday night. "What is the downside of saying, you can have clips with only 10 rounds in it? What does that violate? Hunting? Sportsmanship? If you need more than 10 rounds to hunt, and some argue that they hunt with that many rounds, you shouldn't be hunting. If you can't get the deer in three shots, you shouldn't be hunting. You are an embarrassment."

[MORE: Biden, Pelosi Stir Controversy by Taking Communion]

President Obama placed Biden in charge of the administration's gun-control task force, and its recommendations include a ban on military-style assault weapons, support for universal federal background checks on would-be gun purchaers, and restrictions on high-capacity magazines.

Biden said the administration isn't trying to register all guns, as some firearms enthusiasts claim. "When you go to registration, it raises all the 'black helicopter' crowd notion that what this is all about is identifying who has a gun so that one day the government can get up and go to the house and arrest everyone who has a gun, and they'll cite Nazi Germany and all that," he said, adding that gun ownership is protected by the Constitution.

 

[ALSO: Biden's Gun Advice Could Land His Wife in Jail]

Biden's remarks came a few days after he set off another controversy when he and House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi took communion during a Mass marking Pope Francis's installation as pontiff in Rome. Both Biden and Pelosi are Catholics who are pro-choice on abortion, a position that violates church teachings.

Biden also told NPR that he and President Obama are still pushing for a ban on assault weapons even though majority Senate Democrats, under pressure from opposition Republicans, have dropped it from consideration as part of their gun-control package, at least for now. "Attitudes are changing," Biden said. "And I think the president and I are going to continue to push, and we haven't given up on it."

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  • Ken Walsh covers the White House and politics for U.S. News. He writes the daily blog, "Ken Walsh's Washington," for usnews.com, and is the author of "The Presidency" column for the U.S. News Weekly. He can be reached at kwalsh@usnews.com, and followed on Facebook and Twitter.