January 17, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Vice Presidents And Guns: Where Did They Stand?

This gun law debate is exceedingly contentious, with people voicing their opinions on both sides of the issue. While everyone can agree, that safety and freedom are the main tenets of our nation, it can be difficult to legislate when terrible tragedies put these two ideals at odds. As complex as gun laws can be, many Vice Presidents have voiced their opinions rather vociferously.

Walter Mondale On Guns:

Our democratic 42nd Vice President, Walter Mondale, is famously quoted as saying: “Gun bans don’t disarm criminals. Gun bans attract them.”

Years later, when he was serving as U.S. Ambassador to Japan in 1994, he  weighed in on the gun ban legislation following the Columbine massacre. He wrote an April 20th message from the American Embassy in Tokyo stating that a 20-member gang moved to Japan after finding criminal activity in America “too dangerous because of the prevalence of guns in the homes.”

He continued, “After two dozen successful burglaries in gun-free Tokyo, they managed to mail over 6 million dollars worth of stolen cash and jewels to conspirators in Colombia.” His message concluded, “As word spreads among the international criminal community, more foreigners (including more Americans) may well come to Japan for the easy pickings.”

Pictured: VP John Nance Garner & President Harry Truman

Quotes About Guns From Vice Presidents of Old:

  • Elbridge Gerry: “Self defense is a primary law of nature, which no subsequent law of society can abolish; the immediate gift of the Creator, obliges everyone… to resist the first approaches of tyranny,” said Madison’s VP.
  • Thomas Jefferson: ”None but an armed nation can dispense with a standing army. To keep ours armed and disciplined is therefore at all times important,” said John Adams’ VP.


  • Theodore Roosevelt: Avid hunter and VP to William McKinley believed: “The great body of our citizens shoot less as times goes on. We should encourage rifle practice among schoolboys, and indeed among all classes, as well as in the military services by every means in our power. Thus, and not otherwise, may we be able to assist in preserving peace in the world… The first step – in the direction of preparation to avert war if possible, and to be fit for war if it should come – is to teach men to shoot!”

What More Modern VPs Say About Gun Control:

  • Hubert H. Humprey (38th VP): “Certainly one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of citizens to keep and bear arms,” said Lyndon B. Johnson’s #2 in command. “This is not to say that firearms should not be very carefully used and that definite safety rules of precaution should not be taught and enforced. But the right of citizens to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be possible.”
  • Gerald Ford: “I had always opposed federal registration of guns or the licensing of gun owners,” said Richard Nixon’s second VP. “…At the same time, I recognized that handguns had played a key role in the increase of violent crime. Not all handguns-just those that hadn’t been designed for sporting purposes. I asked Congress to ban the manufacture and sale of these ‘Saturday night specials.’”
  • Lyndon B. Johnson: As President, LBJ signed the Gun Control Act of 1968. As VP to John F. Kennedy, he stated: “Guns and bombs, rockets and warships, are all symbols of human failure.”
  • Richard Nixon: “Guns are an abomination,” he told Journalist William Safire, adding that he favored making handguns illegal and requiring licenses for hunting rifles.
  • Al Gore: “I know about fighting for gun control. I cast the tie-breaking vote to take on the NRA and close the gun show loophole. It took a hard fight to pass the Brady bill and make it the Brady law to establish the 3-day waiting period,” said Bill Clinton’s VP, during his subsequent presidential run. He added, “I want to go farther and completely ban Saturday night specials and junk guns and assault weapons and have what’s called super tracing so that when a gun is used in any kind of crime it can be immediately traced.”
  • Al Gore: However, Gore also admitted that current attempts at legislation did not work. Thirty years after the Gun Control Act of 1968 made it illegal for anyone under 21 to buy a handgun from a dealer, Gore said: “Any 18 year old can walk into a gun store, pawn shop or gun show and buy a handgun.”
  • Dick Cheney: In 2011, after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, George W. Bush’s VP told NBC’s Jamie Gangel,“Whether or not there’s some measure there in terms of limiting the size of the magazine that you can buy to go with a semiautomatic weapon — we’ve had that in place before. Maybe it’s appropriate to re-establish that kind of thing, but I think you do have to be careful obviously. We’re looking for ways to make sure this never happens again, but you’ve still got to go back to the fact that it looks like the cause of this particular tragedy was this one individual who apparently has very serious mental problems.”
  • Dan Quayle: “The quick fix artists are now in a frenzy over guns,” George H.W. Bush’s VP said after the shooting in Littleton, Colorado. He added, “Certainly there are things we can do concerning guns. The instant check system works. And we need to enforce the laws on the books that deal with gun violence. But the overriding issue isn’t really gun control, it’s self-control. A child who loves God, honors his parents, and respects his neighbors will not kill anyone. In our hearts we know that the answer to tragedies like Littleton is in changing the culture.”
  • Joe Biden: In response to the Virginia Tech shooting, Obama’s VP explained: “In the so-called Biden crime bill, we put 100,000 cops on the street. I’ve worked with law enforcement for the past 30 years, with armor-piercing bullets, waiting periods, etc. But the one thing that’s clear: We should not have let the assault weapons ban lapse. We should close this so-called gun show loophole, so you can’t go into a gun show and buy a gun that you couldn’t buy walking into a gun shop. We have let the country down in the way in which we have not focused on mental illness. We should know that your kid is safe at college. If teachers determine that a child is a danger, the school should be able to take them off the campus.” Today, the VP is leading the panel on gun control, with 19 of his recommendations (along with 4 of Obama’s own) passed by executive order already.

Read more about the Vice Presidents who owned guns.

at 9:00 am

Former VP Contenders: Where Are They Now?

Hot Hot Hot:

Paul Ryan – The man at the top of the failed GOP ticket has been eerily silent since his loss, but he’s re-emerged just this week as the same bold politico he was before. So far this year, he’s “decided not to decide” about a run for president in 2016, he voted with The Establishment to avoid the fiscal cliff, and he voted against a Hurricane Sandy aid package that “had too much pork.”  He has been given a prestigious role as a keynote speaker for the Conservative Political Action Conference. He spoke in Caledonia, Wisconsin about the “hasty, sloppy” health care bill, income tax reform, Medicare reform, and the need to cut spending.  Most recently, he’s enthusiastically jumped on-board to the Marco Rubio immigration plan. Could Republicans see a Rubio-Ryan dream team in 2016?

Marco Rubio – Marco Rubio remained closely aligned with his Conservative base and voted against the fiscal cliff deal. Then he took aim at a huge campaign issue that has fallen by the wayside: immigration. “We can’t have the kind of vibrant growth we need and the economy we want, based on limited government and free enterprise, if we don’t have a legal immigration system that works,” he said. His proposal includes: making it easier for seasonal farm workers and skilled tradesman to immigrate; allowing current illegals the ability to earn a work permit through a guest worker program; and starting a national E-Verify program with background checks and finger-printing. Looks  like Marco’s big ambitions and willingness to tackle the hard issues in a sensible way puts him at the top of the ticket in 2016!

Rob Portman – In Ohio, Senator Rob Portman voted with Paul Ryan to support measures to avoid the fiscal cliff. He came out against congressional pay raises and focused on his home state’s need for better skills training programs. Portman said he’s open to new gun legislation, including Obama’s proposed ban on assault weapons. Yet, he attacked the President on matters of spending, saying, “The president says we need to pay our bills. He misses the whole point. The point is we need to adjust what bills we’re paying and how we’re paying them.” He adds, “Think about it in terms of a credit card. If you have a son or daughter who exceeds the limits, what do you do? The first thing you do is probably rip up the card. The second thing you do is say, ‘We need to change our spending habits.’ This is what the president won’t do.” Meanwhile, some political writers are still talking about how “Mitt Romney could have tipped the scales in his favor by selecting Rob Portman as VP.”

Hanging On:

Chris Christie – In New Jersey, Chris Christie went light on property tax hikes — in fact, the lowest NJ residents have seen in two decades. He pushed hard to gain approval for a $51 Billion Hurricane Sandy aid package. He’s also reportedly formed a strategic partnership with NY Governor and rumored Presidential contender Andrew Cuomo, which has been described as a “bromance.” Will we see more from this partnership in the future? In the meantime, the governor will be fighting for re-election this year, with primaries on June 11th.

Yesterday’s News:

Tim Pawlenty -In Minnesota, former Governor and head CEO of the Financial Services Roundtable “T-Paw” led the lobbying group encouraging the GOP to avoid fighting a debt ceiling increase. “We don’t want a ‘Howard Dean scream’ as the country bungee jumps into the cliff,” Pawlenty said on ABC’s “This Week” (– while seated directly across from Howard Dean.) “You’ve got to have moments in politics people get their backs up against the wall to do something big but you don’t want to overplay your hand,” he added. As the debate rages on, Tim Pawlenty is clinging to veepstakes fame by charging a high public speaking fee of $25,000 + expenses.

Bob McDonnell – In Virginia, Governor Bob McDonnell is focused on two issues for his state: transportation and education. McDonnell danced a fine line with tax proposals for the year — asking to remove the gas tax on one hand, but suggesting that residents pay a little more sales tax and higher vehicle fees. Meanwhile, on the education front, he pushed for Teach America programs in VA schools, among other things. He assembled a school safety taskforce, but shied away from making a bold statement on whether he feels Americans should have assault weapons or not. This position led Former Governor Ed Rendell to call McDonnell “a coward” and “a wuss.” It looks like Bob is embroiled in too much home state controversy to be a serious contender for the national stage.

former gop vp

January 16, 2013 at 9:00 am

Not-So-Historic Joe Biden Cartoon

joe biden political cartoon

January 15, 2013 at 9:38 am

Guest Post: “Miss Nancy?”

This guest post is by Rupa Rao, a student at the University of Memphis:

We talk about homosexuality as if it is something new and unheard of.  Public officials, especially, bear the brunt of all the criticism when it comes to their sexual preference.  What we do not realize is that this is an aged topic going on for generations upon generations.  We do not dare to think that something like this is possible in our culture; it is beneath us to associate with much less embrace such atrocity.  What we fail to understand is that our conservative mentality can gravely impact and adversely affect someone else in our midst.  This is what I learned while researching on the historical background of our 13th vice-president under Franklin Pierce, William Rufus King.

william rufus kingKing served office at a time when it would be harder to come clean about one’s sexual lifestyle.  At first glance one would not attempt to question his sexuality.  Born into aristocracy, his debut in the political arena would have been a relatively easy one.  Not to mention his role as a slaveholder aligned him with conservatives.  What would make one suggest an anomaly?  Among other things, it could be his lengthy relationship with James Buchanan while in D.C.

Imagine the amount of taunting and torment he would have had to endure during his journey from being a US Representative and a Senator of two predominately conservative states to be the thirteenth Vice President of this great nation.  On a somber note, Mr. King wasthe only VP to remain unmarried and without children until the end of his days, while being the third-shortest serving VP (with a term of just 45 days).

Could his illness and death have been linked to stress from the incessant controversy that his sexual preference undoubtedly brought forth?  After all, Andrew Jackson, the macho man of all the presidential hopefuls, coined the nickname “Miss Nancy” especially for our thirteenth vice president.

Historian James W. Loewen, a Harvard graduate with a PhD in sociology, certainly thinks that this might be true and supports the idea that the thirteenth VP might have steered the other way. It is often difficult to envision a time in our seemingly conservative history in which the sexuality issue was a factor.  We tend to think that such topics should be better left to the liberals (which King proved to be) and the equal rights activists but the contrary is true (take for example the news about one of VP Dick Cheney’s daughters).  Many stories like this one are bound to be buried deep within our national history that was closed off to the public.  It is up to us to set aside our personal opinions and make the effort to understand the real face of the world so that nobody has to hide anymore.

Thanks for your great insight, Rupa!

December 26, 2012 at 5:41 pm

Historic Thomas Jefferson Political Cartoon

jefferson cartoon

In this critical cartoon, Thomas Jefferson as the cock or rooster, courts a hen, portrayed as Sally Hemings. Contemporary political opponents of Jefferson sought to destroy his presidency and his new political party with charges of Jefferson’s promiscuous behavior and his ownership of slaves. The cock was also a symbol of revolutionary France, which Jefferson was known to admire and which, his critics believed, Jefferson unduly favored. Source

December 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

Historic 1877 Political Cartoon

wheeler cartoon

Rutherford B. Hayes (1822–1893) and William Wheeler (1819–1887) were placed in the unenviable position of redeeming the Republican Party from the accusations of corruption in the two-term administration of Ulysses S. Grant. This eye-catching engraving, rich in imagery, uses the candidates’ names in word play: Uncle Sam rides to Washington on a wagon full of Hay(es), which is pulled by sturdy Wheel(er)s. Voters are assured that “honest money” will be spent in their White House. Source

December 12, 2012 at 9:00 am

Historic 1804 Political Cartoon

burr cartoon

No one dare make a salacious political cartoon about Aaron Burr, but this historic drawing depicts the fateful duel that ended Alexander Hamilton’s life in 1804. In 1799, Burr launched the Manhattan Company to bring clean water into New York City… but, through a loophole, he turned the company into a bank that competed with Hamilton’s almighty Bank of New York. The only solution to such an affront back then was a duel. It turns out, the vice president had a better trigger finger.

December 10, 2012 at 9:00 am

Where’s Joe Biden Been Hidin?

Where has Joe Biden been hiding since Thanksgiving? Find out here…

The Vice President Goes Swimming.

While celebrating his 36th Thanksgiving in Nantucket, the VP took a plunge into frigid waters for the annual Cold Turkey Plunge fundraiser to benefit the Nantucket Atheneum. Is he crazy or what??? Later on, Twitter users spotted Biden shopping around town.

biden thanksgiving

The Vice President Goes Shopping.

Speaking of shopping… Joe Biden donned his aviator sunglasses for a stroll through the District of Columbia’s first Costco store, which was celebrating its grand opening. People were puzzled over what the purpose of the trip precisely was, but the VP allegedly partook in some apple pie samples, told an employee he does not need to look at tires because he “no longer drives,” spent some time browsing watches, and raided the children’s books for charity. Rumor has it, he wanted to take a good old-fashioned “middle-class shopping trip” and highlight his work on extending the middle-class tax cuts.

biden costco

The President ribbed on his #2 in command, telling a crowd: “Joe Biden was in Costco, he wanted to buy some of this stuff… but I told him we have too much work to do and I didn’t want him building roller coasters.”

The Vice President Makes A Terrible Gaffe.

Some people live for Joe Biden’s infamous gaffes — and this one is really, really bad. Apparently, the VP wrote a congratulatory letter to Eric Bodenweiser, Delaware’s Republican state senate candidate, to congratulate him on his “victory.” The problem is… Bodenweiser withdrew from the race for allegedly raping a boy 39 times from 1987-1990. This is particularly embarrassing because Delaware is Biden’s home state!

The Vice President Talks Economics.

Biden says he could “get a deal done within 15 minutes” if Boehner would allow taxes to go up on the wealthiest Americans. He visited the Metro 29 Diner in Arlington to talk fiscal cliff with voters. “This is no time to add any additional burden for the middle class people,” he said.

“I think everybody knows, every serious economists I’ve spoken to — left, right and center –knows there has to be revenue. You have to do something about rates. You can’t get there from here without affecting these people around this table.”

He said it’s up to the voters to decide if they think the Democrats are “dragging their heels” with regard to the economy — or if the Republicans are simply rejecting the President’s position over their refusal to raise any taxes. Here you can read Biden’s open letter to the Providence Journal, regarding tax cuts for middle-class Rhode Islanders.

December 7, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Fiction: Joe Biden + Paul Ryan – BFFs II

Posted by vicepresidents in Fiction

Eric Cantor was buried in the middle of a 150-page bill that he’d received in his mail slot, along with a forceful door rapping, at approximately 4 a.m. – that came with a memo saying: Can you have your vote ready by 7 a.m., pretty please with sugar on top? It was sickening how these people operated.

Yet, he didn’t want to show any signs of weakness  or those damned Democrats would swoop in like vultures — Nancy Pelosi especially. He just couldn’t bear to hear her say, “Oh you couldn’t get it done, Eric? Not enough beauty sleep for you? Ha! I haven’t slept a wink in 30 years and I don’t look a day over 20.”


The shiny black phone on his desk rang, startling him. Cantor blinked, put two fingers to his temple and closed his eyes a moment. “Good God,” he whispered, taking a breath. “Cantor,” he barked.


“Excuse me, but is this T-Pain calling me? Because I can hardly understand you.”

“No, this isn’t T-Pain. Never mind who this is,” the garbled voice said.

“Well, okay. I’m not stupid. Clearly, you’ve got some kind of, uh, voice modifier… what’s it called? Auto-tune? ExVoxx? Clearly you are using some sort of program to obscure your voice. Well what do you want? I’m a busy man and I’ll give you five seconds before I hang up.”

“I’ve got information for you. It’s about Ryan… and Joe Biden.”

There was a pause.

“I’m listening,” Cantor said, leaning forward in his chair. Well I’ll be damned, he thought.

“I received a call from Paul Ryan last week and he – he asked me to role play as Joe Biden again… like how we practiced for the debates,” the deep voice said.

“Look, I know — based on context — it’s you, Ted Olson,” Cantor said coolly.

“Uh, no it’s not,” said the grizzled voice.

“Why not just cut with the crap and ditch the voice decoder so we can speak like civilized human beings for a minute here? I need to know everything that you know about Paul Ryan and Joe Biden.”

“Oh, alright,” the voice said. After a brief pause and a series of loud, muffled clicks, it was indeed Ted Olson’s voice at the other end of the line. “I am risking my ass to make this call, you know,” he snapped.

“And I am grateful for it,” said Cantor. “Now, what is this sick obsession with Joe Biden? Has the Young Gun been poisoned with Democrat propaganda? I must know.”

“I wanted it not to be true,” Olson said. “But he did so much research studying for the debate and got inside Joe’s head so much during the process, that I think he started to identify with the man and, by God, even feel some sort of brotherly love for the Vice President. Maybe it’s part envy, part admiration. Maybe it’s Ryan’s way of picking Joe’s brain to find ways to snub out his influence over Congress. I don’t know, Eric. I just don’t know.”

Cantor chewed on the end of his pen. “I’ll get back to you,” he said and hung up.

He popped his black dress shoes off, loosened his powder-blue tie and kicked back in his leather executive’s chair. He had spent far too much time grooming this Young Gun to let all his hard work slip away due to some loquacious gaffe master from Delaware. Now that he knew his suspicions were justified, he could trap Ryan and make him confess that he had a problem. In Alcoholics Anonymous, they say that is the first step anyway.

political parody


Miss Part I? Read it here.

at 7:00 am

Video: VEEP Debate – Songified!

Posted by vicepresidents in Videos


© 2012 The VEEP: Thoughts & Analysis on the Vice Presidents