F&S: His question to you is “What do you think is the meaning of the Second Amendment? Do you think it is to allow citizens to be armed only to protect themselves from criminals, or was it written to allow the citizenry to offer defense against foreign invaders or oppressive, tyrannical government?”
V.P. BIDEN: It was written primarily for self-defense. The argument about whether or not it was, you know, that famous phrase of Jefferson’s, “The tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots,” which is often used by people who are super-enthusiasts—the Supreme Court has ruled that it’s an individual right. It is not a corporate right. It is not related to a well-established militia, a well-regulated militia. But it also has ruled that it is constitutional to own a gun individually for purposes of sporting, hunting, and/or self-defense.
F&S: Do you think it’s an individual right?
V.P. BIDEN: It is an individual right, but it is also clear constitutionally that the government can limit the type of weapon you can own. For example, if the idea was to be able to repel a tyrannical government, then you should be able to own an F-15 if you have the money to buy it, with full ordnance. But you’re not allowed to do that, and the court says you can deny certain weapons available for individual ownership. You can’t have a nuclear bomb. So it is an individual right. You have a right for self-defense against any intruder or any illegal activity being perpetrated on you, and for your physical self-defense.