Since it’s opening weekend of deer hunting season here in New York, I thought I’d take a look into what sort of guns our nation’s distinguished Vice Presidents owned. Of course, not all VEEPs were pro-gun or particularly avid marksmen, but we do have a number of interesting stories about gun-wielding #2s.
Joe Biden is, on one hand, very much in favor of gun restrictions. Yet, on the other hand, he said of Obama, “If he tries to fool with my Beretta, he’s got a problem.” Joe keeps several shotguns in his home, he has said.
Dick Cheney is a rather infamous hunter. Surely one of the darkest moments of his vice presidency was when he blasted Harry Whittington in the face with a metal salad while quail hunting. Not including tours of war, it had been over two centuries since a sitting vice president had shot someone (Aaron Burr). The Vice President was noted as owning a nice US Firearms Mfg. Co. Single Action Army revolver.
Al Gore has been blasted many times for his apparent disregard for gun safety. He’s been publicly anti-gun, but he used an M-16 in Vietnam and, as shown above, isn’t shy about waving guns around on the Regis Philben show.
George HW Bush is presumed to have a decent gun collection, although it’s perhaps not as esteemed as his son’s collection (which includes one of Saddam Hussein’s!). While serving as VEEP, Bush Sr. was presented with a competition grade Crosman Challenger air rifle by Crosman in conjunction with the Los Angeles Olympics. It’s now in the National Firearms Museum.
Richard Nixon received a World War II-era Colt .45 from none other than Elvis Presley! How cool is that? Nixon also owned a rather nice gold-inlaid Browning shotgun and a a Smith & Wesson Chief Special .38 presented to him by the NRA when he was serving as Vice President.
Harry Truman was an avid gun owner. Here is a famous photos of Harry sighting a gun. He owned the 1.5 millionth Winchester Model 1894, among other historic rifles and pistols.
We’re not sure what type of gun John Nance Garner had, but he sure loved Truman’s Jesse James guns (shown above)!
In 1927, Calvin Coolidge received the millionth Model 1894 produced. This was the first hunting rifle chambered for the “new” smokeless gun powder cartridges.
Perhaps the most famous gun-loving Veep was Teddy Roosevelt. He was a big fan of Winchesters, from his first gun (a Model 1876 he ordered when he was 22 years old) to his last gun (a Model 1895 he used in a river exploration years before his death at age 60). Another fine gun he owned was the exquisite Adolph Double Rifle, which, at the time, earned the manufacturer millions of dollars once people caught sight of the President’s gun — and is now featured in the NRA Museum. Another museum-caliber gun owned by Roosevelt is his prized Fabrique Nationale Model 1900 semi-automatic .32 pistol with mother-of-pearl grip panels. In the portals of history, you will find scores of photos of Roosevelt’s famous big game hunts, where he felled everything from water buffaloes and rhinos to elephants and lions.
Aaron Burr is the most infamous gun owner in the history of the vice presidency. After petty quarrels with Alexander Hamilton, culminating with Hamilton calling Burr “a dangerous man… who ought not be trusted,” VP Burr challenged Hamilton to a duel to save face from the slanderous insults. The two men took Hamilton’s Wogdon pistols and rowed across the Hudson River to Weehawken, New Jersey, where they subsequently shot each other. According to historical accounts, Hamilton’s modified hair trigger mistakenly fired the first shot before he had Burr in his sights. Burr, unaware that the guns were modified, took aim, squeezed slow and steady, and hit Hamilton right in the groin and liver — which killed him 36 hours later.
Last but not least, Thomas Jefferson owned an Avon Deep Woods. Replicas of the original are still being sold. He was one of the nation’s very first gun advocates, proclaiming that, “No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms in his own lands.”