Why is Joe Biden talking guns with Field & Stream?

On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will sit down with editors of Field & Stream magazine to discuss the administration’s gun-control policies. He will have his work cut out for him.

Matt Rourke/AP
Vice President Joe Biden speaks at Girard College in Philadelphia, Monday, after a round table discussion on gun control with elected and law enforcement officials. On Thursday, he’ll sit down with editors of Field & Stream magazine to discuss the administration's gun-control policies.

Vice President Joe Biden has an interesting event on his schedule this week: On Thursday, he’ll sit down with editors of Field & Stream magazine to discuss the administration’s gun-control policies.

Yes, this is a true story, not a joke from the satirical website The Onion. Yes, we acknowledge that where the veep is concerned, the line between truth and comedy can be a thin one: For instance, asked Monday about the pope’s resignation and the upcoming papal election, Mr. Biden actually said, “I am not running.” But Field & Stream is a big deal in the world of hunting and fishing, so it’s not illogical that the administration would want to reach out to its readers, even if most of them might oppose further gun restrictions.

Anyway, The Onion has moved on a bit from its constant portrayal of Biden as someone who washes his Trans-Am in the White House driveway while shirtless. Onion satirists have a new target: Bo the dog. “Bo Obama Receives Visiting Dognitaries from Furuguay” reads a recent Onion headline. Who knew yiplomatic relations were so important in Woofington, D.C.?

As for Field & Stream, Biden’s got his work cut out for him. One of its columnists opined recently that the picture of President Obama shooting skeet might be fake and that the maker of the gun Mr. Obama’s shown holding (Browning) probably isn’t happy about this particular publicity shot.

Plus, Field & Stream editors have set up a comment page for readers to submit questions, and a number of them are fairly pointed.

“Why is this administration launching a clear assault on the Second Amendment?” is one submission.

So why is the veep making time for this at all? Well, as we said, Field & Stream is one of the biggest US publications in the field of outdoor recreation. It’s more than 100 years old and even in this tough publishing climate, it has a circulation over 1.25 million.

And Biden is the administration’s designated outreach person on gun control. He gave an emotional speech on the subject in Philadelphia, saying he was going to travel to rural America to deliver a message on gun violence.

“The one thing I want to make clear is, this message of rational gun safety is a message that will be embraced by rural communities as well as urban communities simply because it makes sense,” Biden said.

The politics of gun control is complicated. Many red-state Democrats are resistant to more restrictions. Some suburban-district Republicans are more receptive to an assault weapons ban. Polls show that gun owners are not that different than non-gun owners on some of the administration’s proposals. Eighty-four percent of gun owners support universal background checks on all gun purchases, according to a survey sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

So that’s what Biden is after: He wants to build support for those aspects of the Obama plan that realistically might pass congressional muster. Doing that requires more than giving speeches before gun-control organizations in Woofing ... excuse us, Washington D.C.

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