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WATCH: Jake Tapper grills Eric Swalwell on his anti-gun agenda; he admits Second Amendment not 'absolute right'


'But it's not just the violence that they've caused, it's the fear...'

Image via Twitter @CNNSotu screenshot

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), who is running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, revealed his campaign's main agenda on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, which focuses on gun control.

But just how far does Swalwell want to go? CNN host Jake Tapper asked tough questions to clarify Swalwell's vision.

What did Swalwell say?

Last year, Swalwell said that semi-automatic "military-style assault weapons," like the AR-15, should be outlawed. He advocated gun buybacks and criminally prosecuting those who do not comply with stiff gun control measures. Tapper pressed on that point.

"What's the punishment for people who don't hand in their guns, do they go to jail?" Tapper asked.

"Well Jake, they would," Swalwell admitted, "but I also offer an alternative, which would be to keep them at a hunting club or a shooting range. And the reason I have proposed this is because these weapons are so devastating."

The California Democrat said "fear" is another reason the Second Amendment should be curtailed.

"But it's not just the violence that they've caused, it's the fear, the immeasurable fear that our children live in because they are still on our streets. I want to get rid of that fear, I want to do what Australia did, and New Zealand just recently did. I think this issue just needs some bold leadership to do it," Swalwell said.

Noting that most gun owners are law-abiding citizens and that the vast majority of firearm-related deaths in the U.S. are not related to "military-style semi-automatic" rifles, Tapper asked: "Isn't it fair to say you actually do want to take away people's guns?"

Under his vision for America, Swalwell said Americans would retain possession of handguns, long rifles, and shotguns — just not the "weapons of war." He said:

You know, keep your pistols, keep your long rifles, keep your shotguns. I want the most dangerous weapons, these weapons of war, out of the hands of the most dangerous people. But when it comes to what else we can do, because I don't even suggest this is all we can do, I also want background checks. So do 73% of NRA members. I want to invest in gang violence prevention programs, especially in our cities.

I want more community oriented policing. My brother is a sheriff's athletic league police officer. He works in tough neighborhoods and helps them get kids out of the streets and into sports. There's a lot that we can do on this issue, but unless it's the number one issue for a president, it's just going to be one that we respond to shooting to shooting. I want to lead on it.

Finally, Swalwell claimed the Second Amendment "is not an absolute right."

Swalwell's admission came when Tapper asked if the Second Amendment should be repealed, which former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens advocated last year.

"No. I don't agree, but I think the greatest threat to the Second Amendment is doing nothing," Swalwell said. "And the Second Amendment is not an absolute right."

"Just like free speech, you can't shout fire in a theater or lie about the products you're selling, you can't own a bazooka, you can't own a tank, you can't own rocket propelled grenades, so we should put some limits in place, and I think the American people are with me," he continued. "I'm no longer intimidated by the NRA. The moms and the kids, they are behind us on this issue, and I think it just takes leadership in Washington."

In the past, Sevens argued the Second Amendment should be amended to reflect his belief that the founders wrote the amendment in the context of a standing army, not personal defense.

However, last March, the retired justice revealed he wants the Second Amendment repealed altogether.

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