There may be 20 different Democrats entering the presidential race, but all the primary candidates are coming together on one issue: restricting the Second Amendment.
Gun control has always been a complicated issue in the United States, with lawmakers on both sides trying to strike the balance between keeping Americans safe and not trampling their right to bear arms and defend themselves from tyrants.
But if recent policies have any indication on Democrats’ intentions, the candidates have stopped their consideration for the rights of gun owners. Here are six ways — big and small — that 2020 Democrats plan to strip gun owners of their access to firearms.
Harris’ executive power grab
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) promised that she wouldn’t wait for Congress to target the rights of gun owners. Instead, she revealed her plan to allow Congress 100 days to “get their act together” on passing gun control laws before she takes over with executive power.
Watch the video below:
Sen. Kamala Harris says if she is elected President, she will give Congress 100 days "to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws, and if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action" https://t.co/KFdn5Viqm1 #HarrisTownHall pic.twitter.com/Ds8DxObhAY
— CNN (@CNN) April 23, 2019
Harris explained that she would use her executive power to up the standards of background checks for any person who transfers a gun more than five times per year. She would also use the bureaucrats at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) to crack down on gun salesmen and strip them of their licenses if they breach any of her executive orders.
The senator’s plan was met with a lot of skepticism as some questioned whether a president has the right to usurp Congress to limit the Second Amendment.
Warren’s no-fly, no-buy
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was the first to come out of the gate and call for “no-fly, no-buy” legislation that would prevent those included on the Department of Homeland Security’s terror watchlist from purchasing a weapon.
“With gun violence, right now we’re not doing anything. Not even the most sensible kinds of things, background checks … This is a national problem,” Elizabeth Warren says when asked about gun control. #WarrenTownHall pic.twitter.com/9H6cDtsFCW
— CNN (@CNN) March 19, 2019
While that may sound fine in theory, the implementation of the policy is where things go awry. As IJR previously reported, the policy has been seen as both a breach of one’s right to due process and racially biased because there is no legal process to end up on the list.
Because there is no legal process for landing on the “no-fly” list, people accidentally end up on the list because they share a name with someone who belongs on the list — a problem that disproportionately affects minority men.
Following the horrific mosque shootings in New Zealand, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called for the U.S. to follow in the footsteps of the New Zealand government and impose a mandatory buyback program on semi-automatic weapons.
A gun buyback program allows gun owners to be compensated by the government for turning over their weapons after they’ve been outlawed. This program aims to encourage a peaceful gun turnover before it becomes a crime to own the weapon.
This is what real action to stop gun violence looks like. We must follow New Zealand's lead, take on the NRA and ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons in the United States. https://t.co/lSAisDG9Ur
— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) March 21, 2019
While some American politicians lauded New Zealand’s policy as a success, the people of New Zealand were less enthusiastic, turning over just 37 of the estimated 1.2 million guns in the first days of the program. They have until September 30 before owning the outlawed weapons becomes a crime. As of April 10, only 300 weapons had been turned over.
Beto’s AR-15 sales ban
Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) has tried to walk the line of protecting gun owner rights while appeasing the gun control crowd in the Democratic primary, which has led to some confusing policy stances.
Shortly after announcing his presidential bid, O’Rourke called for a ban on the sale of AR-15s and other “weapons of war,” but his policy lost some people when he explained that he would allow gun owners to grandfather in weapons they already own.
Beto O'Rourke: "If you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely. I just don't think that we need to sell anymore weapons of war into this public." pic.twitter.com/uqMA1jWOTf
— The Hill (@thehill) March 17, 2019
“Now, if you own an AR-15, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly and safely,” O’Rourke said. “I just don’t think that we need to sell any more weapons of war into this public.”
Former Vice President Joe Biden has supported similar AR-15 sales bans in the past, though he has yet to take a clear position on guns since his recent presidential announcement.
Booker’s imaginary loopholes
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) left some scratching their heads when he announced his plan to end gun violence in the United States by making laws that already exist. During a CNN town hall, Booker explained that he would close the “loopholes” that allow domestic abusers or other violent criminals to get guns.
Watch the video below:
So… Cory Booker did not brush up on gun laws or his gun knowledge before his big town hallpic.twitter.com/56i3wXVOBB
— Jason Howerton (@jason_howerton) March 28, 2019
As IJR previously reported, NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch clobbered Booker for his factual inaccuracies.
Also, there are no “loopholes,” there are criminal acts. If your driver’s license is suspended and you drive anyway that isn’t some magical “loophole,” it’s a criminal act. We undermine law by pretending it doesn’t exist.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) March 28, 2019
As he noted, Booker also supports “no-fly, no-buy” policies.
Swalwell’s prison promise
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) made gun control the cornerstone of his campaign and has vowed to implement a New Zealand-style gun ban if he becomes president. However, he set himself apart from other 2020 Democrats by promising to lock up gun owners who would refuse to comply with his takeover of the Second Amendment.
2020 Democratic presidential candidate @RepSwalwell vows to focus on gun control: “It’s not just the violence that they’ve caused, it’s the fear, the immeasurable fear that our children live in because they’re still on our streets. I want to get rid of that fear.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/qaFxYnTjBM
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) April 14, 2019
Swalwell told CNN’s Jake Tapper that he wants “to do what Australia did and New Zealand just recently did.”
The battle between gun control and the Second Amendment will likely play a key role in the 2020 Democratic primary as candidates battle to set themselves apart. It remains to be seen how their anti-gun policies fair in a general election.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR.