O'Rourke: I think Americans would voluntarily comply with a mandatory assault weapons buyback program

O'Rourke: I think Americans would voluntarily comply with a mandatory assault weapons buyback program

Via the Examiner, he’s part of a trend: Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have also endorsed this draconian idea, which has zero chance of passing the Senate unless and until Democrats (1) win a majority, (2) eliminate the filibuster, and (3) decide that all of the members of their caucus from red states, like Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, are expendable (or that their votes aren’t needed for passage).

It’s great low-calorie virtue-signaling material for struggling Democratic candidates, though. “My wimpy rivals only want to ban assault-weapons sales. A true anti-gun crusade starts a la Australia and New Zealand, by taking weapons that are already in circulation off the streets.”

I’d be keen to see a test vote on mandatory buybacks in the House, in fact, as I’m not sure Dems could pass a bill like that there even with their current majority. The freshmen who ousted Republicans in purple districts last fall would panic, caught in a vise between progressives who want aggressive action and Republican voters who are suspicious of their “moderate” credentials. For just that reason, I assume there’s nothing that could convince Pelosi to put such a bill on the floor, no matter how good it might make lefties feel to get everyone on record.

If you believe WaPo’s latest polling, a majority of the country now supports a buyback program, i.e. confiscation, of assault weapons:

Supposedly 31 percent of Republicans are on board with a buyback. But note: When Quinnipiac recently polled the idea, it found a mere 18 percent of Republicans in favor and the public split 46/49 against it overall. A new poll from Monmouth out within the last hour finds support for buybacks at just 43/53 nationally and 22/74 among Republicans.

We could sit here and speculate about why, analyzing the partisan samples in each polls or the wording of the question, but it’s not worth the bother. A buyback isn’t happening anytime soon; beyond its cheap stump-speech value to 2020 Dem hopefuls, it’s useful to gun-grabbers chiefly as a way to try to condition the public to accept less aggressive gun-control measures as “compromise” ideas. Right now, according to WaPo, 56 percent of Americans support an assault-weapons ban, including 33 percent of Republicans. (Quinnipiac actually had GOP support at 37 percent.) If Democrats start negotiations in 2021 with a big “ask” — mandatory buyback! — it’ll seem less unreasonable to some righties when they “retreat” and offer a ban on future assault-weapons sales instead.

It may play out the same way on health care, with the next Democratic administration “settling” for adding a public option to ObamaCare after preparing the political battlespace with years of chatter about Medicare for All.

As for Beto’s point here that police wouldn’t go door to door to enforce his buyback program, doubtless that’s true. Cops don’t have the resources to conduct house to house searches of literally everyone, never mind the danger they’d face when they inevitably encountered people who adamantly refuse to turn over their weapons. The way this would be enforced, I assume, is the way drug-possession laws are enforced: The cops aren’t going to knock on the door randomly and ask to look around to see if you have drugs, but if they’re searching your property for some other reason and discover drugs, you’re in trouble. Same with assault weapons. President Beto could offer people a certain amount of compensation if they want to hand in their weapons voluntarily and, if they don’t, threaten them with a 10-year prison sentence should those weapons be found in the course of other police business. Most guns would remain in circulation (just like in New Zealand!) but they couldn’t be brought to ranges or gun shows anymore without fear of arrest. They’d be contraband.

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