In an op-ed to kick off his presidential bid, Congressman Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) outlined his plan to remove the right to own “military-style” semiautomatic guns from American citizens.
Swalwell officially announced his White House bid Monday night, joining a crowded field of Democratic contenders. Although he is one of 18 Democrats in the race, he plans to set himself apart from the field by focusing on gun violence in the United States.
In his op-ed with the San Francisco Gate, Swalwell noted that he has taken the most radical stand against the Second Amendment, noting that he is the first candidate to call for a mandatory gun buy-back of “military-style” semi-automatic guns.
“I’m the only candidate calling for a mandatory national ban and buyback of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons. It’s bold and will cost money, but it is constitutional and it rightly treats gun violence as a life-or-death matter. Our children deserve better than an attempt to reduce or contain gun violence. Our goal must be to end it.”
Swalwell didn’t explain what he meant by “military-style.” In the United States, it is already illegal to own automatic weapons and most of the guns owned by Americans are classified as semi-automatic.
If he plans to classify on the term “assault,” that might only include guns that are fed by a magazine and can be modified to become near-automatic, including the AR-15, but that likely wouldn’t reach the goal of ending gun violence because gun homicides are committed by handguns.
The “buy-back” proposal mentioned by Swalwell would likely mirror the buy-back recently seen in New Zealand after the horrific mosque shootings. Following the shooting, they opted to ban guns and offered payments for the guns when they were turned into the government to compensate for the financial loss.
As Swalwell noted, New Zealand’s buy-back has been expensive, costing the country $200 million in U.S. dollars. Additionally, they’ve had limited success in actually getting the guns turned in, as only 37 did so voluntarily in the first few days of the buy-back.
Beyond the hurdles of cost and participation that Swalwell would have to overcome, should he get his wish on the mandatory buy-back, he would also face a Constitutional battle because — unlike New Zealand — gun ownership is a right in the United States.