Biden calls for gun control; ex-governor Miller endorses him
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Former Vice President Joe Biden returned to Las Vegas on Friday to hold a town hall on the city’s east side and an evening fundraiser.
Biden, the front-runner in a still crowded field of Democratic presidential hopefuls, used his afternoon town hall to speak about gun violence, making note of the 2017 mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip that left 58 dead and hundreds injured.
Biden, speaking days before the anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting, reiterated his call for universal background checks on gun purchases to help stem gun violence. He also pushed back on the arguments from some gun-rights supporters that citizens need to own firearms like assault weapons to potentially protect themselves from a tyrannical government.
The former vice president, who is among the Democratic candidates calling for reinstating a ban on assault weapons, said claims that such guns would protect against the government ignores the power and machinery available to the U.S. military.
“If you need weapons to protect yourself from the government, you’d better go get an F-15. You’d better buy yourself a fighter jet” or a bazooka rocket launcher, Biden said.
He added, “The idea that an AR-15 is going to protect you from your government -- come on!”
Biden is among the candidates who will return to Nevada next week to speak at a forum on gun violence hosted by two prominent gun control organizations, March For Our Lives and the Giffords group founded by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head in a 2011 mass shooting in Arizona.
Biden was briefly interrupted during his town hall Friday by a protester who held up a sign that said ”#MeToo” and called Biden a “predator.” The man protesting was grabbed by security and walked out of the building.
The former vice president, who had just begun speaking, picked up where he left off without having much reaction.
Biden faced questions earlier this year about a complaint from former Nevada politician Lucy Flores that he made her uncomfortable by touching her shoulders and kissing the back of her head before a 2014 campaign event.
Biden has said he doesn’t recall the meeting the same way Flores does but said he’s trying to be more careful about his respecting people’s personal space.
Biden was introduced on Tuesday by former Nevada Gov. Bob Miller, who announced his endorsement of Biden. Miller is a Democrat who served from 1989 to 1999.