A Washington state man who fired a shotgun to scare away possible car prowlers from his property was arraigned Wednesday for illegal discharging of a firearm, and he cited Vice President Joe Biden's advice about shooting such weapons in the air in his defense.
Fifty-two-year-old Jeffery Barton pleaded not guilty, KOIN.com reports:
Deputies have been investigating whether a large teen party that got out of control at a neighbor’s home may have been linked to the shooting. However, at this point, deputies have said there was no evidence of prowlers on Barton’s property.
Outside the courtroom Wednesday, Barton cited the vice president in defense of his actions.
"I did what Joe Biden told me to do," Barton told KOIN. "I went outside and fired my shotgun in the air." [...]
However, sheriff’s deputies noted to KOIN Wednesday that current law does not afford people the right to just fire off their gun. There must be a self-defense component, along with a life-threatening situation. None of which appeared to be the case here, they said.
The vice president told a participant in a February online town hall meeting, who was concerned about possible bans of certain weapons and high-capacity magazines, to buy a shotgun and fire blasts to chase off malfeasants.
"If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barreled shotgun," Biden said. "I promise you, as I told my wife, we live in an area that's wooded and somewhat secluded. I said, Jill, if there's ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here, walk out, put [up] that double-barreled shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house."
Biden's fondness for these guns led the Washington Free Beacon to create a video of his self-defense tips:
That suggestion, Reason pointed out at the time, was wrong. J.D. Tuccille wrote "he's publicly dispensing advice that would leave people disarmed in dangerous situations, and could get them thrown in jail." U.S. News and World Report also wrote:
A sergeant with the Wilmington, Del., police department explained to U.S. News that city residents are not allowed to fire guns on their property.
The sergeant, who preferred not to be identified, said that Wilmington residents are also not allowed to shoot trespassers. "On your property you can't just shoot someone," he said. "You have to really feel that your life is being threatened."
Defense attorney John Garey—a former Delaware deputy attorney general—agreed, and added that several criminal charges might result if Jill Biden took her husband's advice.
Biden later told readers of Field & Stream magazine to "just fire the shotgun through the door" in order to keep intruders away from their homes.