Some politicians just don’t get guns. By that, we mean they don’t understand them—at all. They don’t use the right technical terms, they don’t know how to properly operate firearms, and perhaps worst of all, they seem to think what they see in the movies is real. This can lead to some highly embarrassing flubs when speaking about gun-related issues or legislation. Some misconceptions are so prevalent now that they are commonplace, such as mistakenly calling a magazine a clip, or blurring the lines between semiautomatic and fully automatic guns. Then there are the times when a statement is so nonsensical and so ludicrous that it becomes an instant meme.
When that happens, the internet never forgets.
Here are five memorable quotes from politicians that have been widely poked fun at in recent years. It should be noted that there are plenty of politicians that are gun owners and know perfectly well how a gun works, but these aren’t some of them.
1. “Shoulder thing that go up”
This infamous phrase was spoken by Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) after she admitted that she did not immediately recall what a barrel shroud was, despite identifying the item as part of a bill to ban so-called “assault weapons.”
A barrel shroud is, of course, a covering attached to the barrel of a firearm that prevents the user from burning themselves—as its name would suggest. A “shoulder thing that goes up,” on the other hand, is more reminiscent of the shoulder-mounted plasma caster from the Predator films.
2. “There won’t be any more available”
US Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) uttered these words in a forum on gun control after explaining that once gun owners have used their magazines, they won’t be able to use them anymore. What?
Maybe the full quote will help:
“What’s the efficacy of banning these magazine clips? I will tell you these are ammunition, they’re bullets, so the people who have those know they’re going to shoot them, so if you ban them in the future, the number of these ‘high capacity’ magazines is going to decrease dramatically over time because the bullets will have been shot and there won’t be any more available.”
No, that still doesn’t make much sense. What happened was that DeGette was trying to explain why she supported a ban on magazines that can accept more than a certain number of rounds, but somewhere along the way she confused the concept of magazines with bullets.
Magazines aren’t one-use items. At least not the well-made ones.
3. Incendiary rounds are “heat seeking devices”
While discussing a proposed ban on .50 caliber rifles, New York Assemblywoman Patricia Eddington (D-District 3) mistook incendiary rounds for heat-seeking ammunition. Incendiary rounds do not, in fact, track targets, but have a compound within the projectile that burns rapidly.
4. “Buy a shotgun” and “fire two blasts”
This notorious quote comes from none other than Vice President Joe Biden, who in a town hall Q&A with Parents magazine, recommended buying a shotgun and firing two shots out of your front door if you feel threatened. Not exactly the best legal advice, as in 2013 a man claimed he followed Biden’s advice to chase away three men from breaking into his car, only to be slapped with a misdemeanor charge.
Biden also received criticism from gun rights advocates by saying that shotguns are preferable to AR-15s since the rifles are “harder to aim, it’s harder to use, and in fact you don’t need 30 rounds to protect yourself. Buy a shotgun.”
5. The “Ghost Gun” incident
This is a prime lesson that politicians should familiarize themselves with the topic at hand before speaking publicly. California State Senator Kevin de León spoke at length about “ghost guns,” or firearms that lack a serial number, during a press conference in 2014. Arguably the most memorable moment was when de León identified one of the “ghost guns.”
“This is a ghost gun. This right here has the ability with a 30-caliber clip to disperse with 30 bullets within half a second. 30 magazine clip within half a second,” he said.
Okay, none of that makes any sense, so let’s break it down.
There is no such thing as a “30-caliber clip.” What de León meant to say was likely that the weapon had a magazine capable of storing 30 rounds. Also, unless that firearm has been heavily modified and is from the future, it likely does not fire 30 rounds within half a second. To put this in perspective, the maximum rate of fire from a M134 Minigun, a machine gun that has six barrels, can fire 50 rounds in half a second. And that’s the gun’s theoretical maximum. Your average AR-15 variant has a much lower rate of fire.
What are some of your “favorite” gun quotes from politicians?