Police Weigh in on Biden’s Repeated Advice to Shoot Suspects ‘in the Leg’

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster


During his town hall event last week, former Vice President Joe Biden made a rather interesting recommendation for police officers who find themselves in danger. But according to actual members of law enforcement, his suggestion is about as useful as an umbrella in a hurricane. 

During the ABC News townhall, the subject of police brutality came up in light of the George Floyd killing. The former vice president discussed the issue and potential solutions. “There’s a lot of things we’ve learned and it takes time, but we can do this,” he explained. “You can ban chokeholds … you have to teach people how to de-escalate circumstances. … Instead of anybody coming at you and the first thing you do is shoot to kill, you shoot them in the leg.”

Members of law enforcement took issue with Biden’s recommendation and pointed out the obvious flaws in his remarks. John Evans, president of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association, told Fox News that Biden’s suggestion is “absolutely ridiculous” and “incredibly ignorant.”

Evans continued, “the guy’s clueless. And I know he’s just trying to appease his left-wing base but it’s a really foolish statement.” 

Joe Gamaldi, vice president of the national Fraternal Order of Police, characterized the suggestion as “completely ridiculous, “unrealistic” and a “pandering talking point.”

“Shootings are dynamic situations and we shoot to stop the threat,” Gamaldi told Fox News. “It’s incredibly difficult to hit a moving target.”

Of course, one doesn’t need to be a police officer to know why telling officers to shoot suspects in the leg is an asinine idea. Officers are trained to aim for center mass because it is the largest target. Shooting someone in the leg would be far more difficult because it’s smaller and a moving target. By aiming for a suspect’s leg, the officer risks not only his own life if he misses, but he could inadvertently hit an innocent bystander. 

“By aiming at legs we are much more likely to miss and we already only hit roughly 50% of the time,” Gamaldi noted. He recalled an incident in which he was involved in a shooting 14 years ago.”Between being terrified I was going to die, someone shooting at me, and then I need to aim at their legs — it’s not realistic.”

Evans also pointed out the problems with Biden’s suggested tactic. “If an individual is coming at you with a knife and you shoot for the leg and you miss, he’s on you,” he said.  

This was not the first time Biden has put forth this ridiculous idea. In June, he said that if an officer faces a threat from a suspect with “a knife or something,” they should be trained to “shoot ‘em in the leg instead of the heart.” 

“Instead of standing there and teaching a cop when there’s an unarmed person coming at ‘em with a knife or something, shoot ‘em in the leg instead of in the heart,” Biden said at an event with Black community leaders in Wilmington, Delaware.

Officers already use less lethal forms of force and in most cases, firearms are a last resort. Tasers, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and other less-lethal tools are also in most officers’ arsenal. But suggestions like Biden’s are an example of what happen when you get your information from cop movies and not real life. 


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