Cooling-off periods. Mandatory assault-rifle buybacks, complete with prison time for defiance. Background checks for ammunition purchases and prohibitions on “hoarding.” Rep. Eric Swalwell not only has no chance of winning a presidential nomination, his gun control plan demonstrates that he couldn’t pass a basic constitutional test if the office required one:
In his plan, the California Democrat reiterated that, if elected president, he will ban and buy back “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons,” with the exception of storing them at shooting ranges and hunting clubs. As he has said before, Swalwell’s plan states they will criminally prosecute any person caught defying the buyback, including the possibility of jail time.
Swalwell’s been talking about buybacks and prison time for a couple of months now, including with Jake Tapper on CNN in April. Based on Swalwell’s definition of assault weapons, there may be 15 million or more such firearms to buy back. Even if such a requirement passed constitutional muster, the federal government would be required to pay fair market value for the property they confiscate, since they were legal to own when purchased. It would take billions of dollars just for the restitution, and many times that to organize a forced surrender program and the enforcement that Swalwell threatens would follow.
And for what? The latest FBI statistics for gun violence come from 2017, and — as usual — they show long-barrel firearms of all types to be the least problematic of weapons. Law enforcement reported 15,129 murders in 2017, 72% of which were committed by firearms. Of all murders, rifles and shotguns of all types accounted for less than 5%. Knives or cutting instruments were used in twice as many murders as the two combined, and more murders were committed with “personal weapons” — hands, fists, feet — than rifles of all types. Even if it wasn’t unconstitutional on its face, this kind of proposal is ridiculously hyperbolic to the actual threat posed.
But wait — there’s more! Swalwell’s plan also proposes a federal law against “hoarding” ammunition:
- Limit ammunition sales for individual purchasers to 200 rounds per 30-day period.
- Prohibit individuals from hoarding ammunition in quantities exceeding 200 rounds per caliber or gauge.
Ahem. For most shooters, 200 rounds is a decent day at the target range, not “hoarding.” What difference does it make how many rounds a law-abiding person stores at his home, regardless of caliber? Shouldn’t we want gun owners to go to the range regularly to practice their handling and aim? That kind of practice makes it much less likely that bystanders will get harmed if for some reason a gun owner had to use lethal force to protect him/herself.
Oh, and by the way — how does Swalwell plan to enforce such a restriction on “hoarding”? House-to-house searches, while enforcing the buyback provision?
Similarly, Swalwell’s proposal to ban online sales of ammunition looks like another solution in desperate search of a problem. People buy ammunition on line to save money, not for any special kind of access. Other than having the inadvertent impact of boosting local businesses, this would do nothing to prevent criminal use of ammunition. It would just make it slightly more expensive.
This one’s especially laughable:
- Implement a 48-hour cooling-off period between the time a person purchases a firearm and the time they take possession of it.
Bear in mind that there’s already a five-day waiting period in place to complete a firearm transaction in most instances for those not already precleared through NICS. Also bear in mind that the federal government has done nearly nothing to prosecute people who attempt to make illegal purchases of weapons when caught by this system, a point that Swalwell does concede by pledging prosecutions. Adding an additional two days will again do nothing except extend the wait.
However, let’s posit this in position with another “constitutional right” defended by Swalwell. How would he react to a 48-hour or 7-day “cooling off period” for anyone seeking an abortion? After all, at least one human being dies in each abortion, and there are hundreds of times more abortions in the US each year than rifle-related murders. I suspect Swalwell would scream about constitutional violations of privacy without any hint of irony, especially in defense of an inferred right as opposed to the explicitly enumerated right he wants to attack.
Swalwell’s bill would have one major impact on firearms in the US: it would transform millions of law-abiding, responsible firearms owners into criminals overnight. It’s as idiotic and pointless as Swalwell’s presidential campaign.