Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke said that “Americans will comply” with his proposed gun confiscation plan, meaning police officers won’t have to go to houses to seize the guns.
“I don’t see the law enforcement going door to door. I see Americans complying with the law. I see us working with gun owners, non-gun owners, local, county, state, federal law enforcement to come up with the best possible solution,” O’Rourke told told reporters while campaigning in New Hampshire.
Pressed about how he’d enforce the plan if it was put into place among gun owners who refused to comply, O’Rourke added: “How do you—how do we enforce any law? There’s a significant reliance on people complying with the law. You know that a law is not created in a vacuum.”
“You’ll have the input of members of Congress who are going to reflect their constituents’ interests, and at the end of the day, I agree to get to a solution that protects your Second Amendment rights while protecting the lives of everyone in this country,” he added.
The proposal, which would ban millions of guns, has been termed a buyback plan, but critics have pushed back against the designation, noting that the government doesn’t sell guns so it couldn’t buy them back from gun owners.
Campaigning recently in Virginia, O’Rourke was asked how he’d address people concerned their assault rifles would be taken away.
“I want to be clear: That’s exactly what we’re going to do. Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell their assault weapons. All of them,” O’Rourke wrote in a statement. His campaign website lists “ban assault weapons” among his plans.
“Beto is calling for a mandatory buyback program for assault weapons and voluntary buyback for handguns. To create a funding stream for buybacks, Beto will increase the excise tax on gun manufacturers and fines imposed on gun traffickers, and will enable ATF to purchase any banned assault weapons presented to the agency. Individuals who fail to participate in the mandatory buyback of assault weapons will be fined,” the site states.
O’Rourke is among a number of Democratic presidential hopefuls who want to implement gun bans, including Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), former Vice President Joe Biden, and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) said in August she’d push legislation to Congress that would establish a federal licensing system, require universal background checks, increase taxes on gun manufacturers, and ban assault weapons.
She’d also try to get so-called red flag laws, which enable law enforcement to seize guns from those reported to be a danger to others or themselves by loved ones, passed.
A number of other candidates have voiced support for many of those proposals.
Biden has also called for a new federal assault weapons ban.
A Quinnipiac University poll (pdf) released late August indicated majority support for new legislation to reduce gun violence but there was a split among those asked if they support a mandatory assault weapon buyback, “which would mean that people who own assault weapons would be required to turn them in and be compensated with money.”
Just 46 percent said they supported the idea, versus 49 percent who said they opposed it. Among those who supported it were 71 percent of Democratic respondents and 47 percent of Independents; among those who opposed the plan were 77 percent of Republicans and 49 percent of Independents. Women favored the plan at a higher percentage than men.
The survey was conducted from Aug. 21 to Aug. 26 among 1,422 registered voters and had a margin of error of plus/minus 3.1 percentage points.