Dem Senator Shares His Idea for Assault Weapons Buy-Back Program

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Posted: May 03, 2018 4:25 PM

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), like many gun control activists, wants "assault weapons" off the street. His proposal is a bit more radical, however. Instead of just a tired old ban, he is suggesting a buy back program. He shared his idea in an op-ed for USA Today.

Reinstating the federal assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 would prohibit manufacture and sales, but it would not affect weapons already possessed. This would leave millions of assault weapons in our communities for decades to come.

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. The ban would not apply to law enforcement agencies or shooting clubs. (USA Today)

He uses Australia as precedent.

Australia got it right. After a man used military-style weapons to kill 35 people in April 1996, that nation adopted strict new measures and bought back 643,726 newly illegal rifles and shotguns at market value. The cost — an estimated $230 million in U.S. dollars at the time — was funded by a temporary 0.2% tax levy on national health insurance.

Swalwell notes that for U.S. to employ the same system, the price would be a bit steeper. If the government offers $200 to buy back the estimated 15 million assault weapons in the country, for instance, it would cost $3 billion.

It's a hefty sum, but "what is it worth to American taxpayers to not see our families, friends and neighbors cut down in a hail of gunfire?" Swalwell asks. "Consider this an investment in averting carnage and heartache and loss." 

The shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in February, in which 17 innocent students and faculty members lost their lives, Swalwell argues, demands a drastic change.

"The Parkland teens have taught us there is no right more important than every student's right to come home after class," he writes. "The right to live is supreme over any other."

Parkland students like David Hogg have come to the same conclusion - gun control is the answer. Oh and the NRA is the enemy. Yet, some of his peers and some of the victims' families believe the problem lies in law enforcement. Footage during the shooting proves that a few armed deputies failed to act for minutes. Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel said it's not his fault. Andrew Pollack, a father whose daughter was killed in the Parkland shooting, has filed a wrongful death suit against one of the deputies and local mental health facilities who he says should have known how much of a threat the shooter posed to the community.