Joe Biden
Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

In one of the more idiotic statements in Thursday night’s ABC News Town Hall, former Vice President Joe Biden said that police officers should shoot people in the leg instead of shoot to kill.

“We can do this. You can ban choke calls, you can budget, but beyond that, you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances, de-escalate. So instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do shoot to kill, you shoot him in the leg,” he said.


I support police reform, and I think I would agree with some of his ideas on the subject like de-escalation training, banning chokeholds, and a different approach to hiring law enforcement officers.

This idea about shooting people in the leg is just utter nonsense said by someone who obviously doesn’t know the first thing about firearms. What is sad is that he has proposed this idea before and no one has convinced him this is a horrible idea.

Here are six reasons why Biden’s suggestion is foolish and dangerous.

First, shooting someone in the leg is not de-escalation. It’s still violence. Why he follows his comment about de-escalation with this is beyond me.

Second, when you receive firearms training whether you are in the military, law enforcement, or as a civilian, you are trained to aim center mass – in the center of the chest. Why? Because shooting someone with a handgun in a high-stress environment when your body is coursing with adrenaline is not easy. Aiming center mass gives the person shooting a better opportunity to hit their target.

Biden is basing his idea on movies where action heroes are perfect shots. That is not real life. Especially when you consider the target is likely moving making hitting that person that much harder.

Third, if you don’t hit what you are aiming at, you may hit someone you are not aiming at. Attempting to shoot to wound increases the risk that an innocent bystander will be caught in the crossfire.

Fourth, hitting someone in the leg doesn’t mean they’ll go down. The target also has adrenaline coursing through him or her. If it’s just a flesh wound, they could still come at the police officer.

Fifth, if they have a weapon and is a threat to the law enforcement officer or others, they need to eliminate the threat.

Sixth, (Hi, former Army field medic here) shooting a person in the leg can be life-threatening. If a person’s femoral artery is hit, if they do not receive immediate aid, they can bleed out quickly. Shooting someone in the leg is not guaranteed to be non-lethal.

Biden should already know that and it’s campaign staff malpractice that no one has corrected him.

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  1. Why not just keep your weapon holstered, unless the assailant has a gun in her hand?

    Fear of knife is about 98% caused by a (fantastic) video showing how a man with a knife can rush you and kill you before you can get your weapon into action. But this is exceedingly rare, as in almost never, and LEOs can be trained how to handle such a case without drawing a weapon and firing it.

    I am a former LEO. I know how I was trained to shoot to kill. Which is why I was also trained not to unholster just because my adrenaline was pumping.

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