Rep. Swalwell to Tucker Carlson: It's only gun confiscation 'if they're caught with them'

Earlier this month, Rep. Eric Swalwell wrote a piece for USA Today in which he called for a national ban on AR-15 style rifles followed by a “buy back” program targeting current owners.

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…

Based on manufacturing figures and other indirect data, there could be 15 million assault weapons out there. If we offer $200 to buy back each weapon — as many local governments have — then it would cost about $3 billion; at $1,000 each, the cost would be about $15 billion.

That link in the last paragraph above goes to an AP story about a buy back program run by police in Connecticut. But there’s a critical difference. The Connecticut effort wasn’t mandatory and wasn’t backstopped by a threat to prosecute those who refused to comply. So calling this a buy back program is just spin from the start.

Monday night, Rep. Swalwell appeared on Tucker Carlson’s show where he was asked to defend his proposal. Swalwell immediately claimed his proposal wasn’t calling for “confiscation.” “I’ve never suggested sending troops out or collecting, confiscating,” Swalwell explained.

Carlson read a quote from the Swalwell’s piece for the second time and concluded, “So, you’re going to prosecute people who don’t give up their weapons. That’s gun confiscation.”

“If they’re caught with them, yeah,” Swalwell replied. He added, “We’re not sending troops door to door.”

So it’s not confiscation if you can risk your own freedom to defy the law? That doesn’t sound like a great option to me.

The banter over this went back and forth for a few minutes with Swalwell suggesting Americans would be “law-abiding” meaning they would turn in their guns if the government demanded they do so. The discussion hit another gear when Carlson pointed out that Members of Congress have Capitol Hill police protecting them with the very type of rifles Rep. Swalwell would like to outlaw.

“You’re surrounded by bodyguards that I pay for,” Carlson said.

“They’re police officers. They’re sworn. They’re trained and they shouldn’t be outgunned,” Swalwell replied.

But Carlson kept hammering on the point that Swalwell works in a building protected by guards with guns. “Why shouldn’t my wife have the same firearm at home that your bodyguards use to protect you,” Carlson asked.

“That’s a ridiculous argument, Tucker,” Swalwell replied, but he never could really explain how his position made sense. Instead, he snapped back to “our cops should not be outgunned,” a line he’d already used once.

Swalwell’s gun confiscation plan may go over well in the Bay Area but it didn’t hold up well under questioning last night. Credit to Tucker Carlson who highlighted the essential dishonesty of Swalwell’s entire pitch. There are several memorable lines in this clip, but the one about this only being gun confiscation if people get caught is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever heard a congressman say and ought to haunt Rep. Swalwell’s career for decades.

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