In a USA Today op-ed, a Democratic congressman from California is proposing that the U.S. institute a ban on the possession of assault weapons, and that the government buy back the weapons from current owners.
“We can finally act to remove weapons designs for war from our streets, once and for all,” Rep. Eric Swalwell wrote.
What’s his plan?
Swalwell said the federal assault weapons ban from 1994 to 2004 didn’t go far enough; it only banned the sale and manufacture of the guns. Swalwell wants those guns out of U.S. communities.
“Instead, we should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, we should buy back such weapons from all who choose to abide by the law, and we should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons,” Swalwell wrote. “The ban would not apply to law enforcement agencies or shooting clubs.”
Swalwell referenced Australia, which adopted strict gun control laws after a mass shooting in 1996, and bought back more than 600,000 rifles and shotguns at market value from owners. That initiative was funded by a tax levy on national health insurance.
A similar effort in the U.S. could cost as much as $15 billion, based on gun ownership estimates.
“It’s no small sum,” Swalwell wrote. “But let’s put it in context. The federal government is spending an estimated $4 trillion this year; $15 billion would be 0.375% of that, not that we must spend it all in one year.”
Swalwell also mentioned that several federal appeals courts have upheld assault weapons bans, and that former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia once wrote that the Second Amendment right is “not unlimited.”
Who is the congressman?
Swalwell is a representative from the San Francisco area, is the co-chair of the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee, serves on the House Judiciary Committee, and is also on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He has served in Congress since 2013.
(H/T The Hill)