Democratic presidential candidates are taking up calls for the federal government to begin purchasing firearms from gun owners, with Beto O’Rourke and others looking for a mandatory assault weapons buyback.

O’Rourke tweeted out video of his comments. “I was asked how I’d address people’s fears that we will take away their assault rifles,” he wrote Monday, Sept. 2. “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,” he continued. “All of them.”

A growing number of Democrats in 2020 have taken a similar stance, calling for optional or mandatory federal gun buyback programs to reduce the estimated 400 million guns that civilians own in America.

Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., in a recent interview with Vox, said he believes there should be an “outright ban” on assault weapons and, like O’Rourke, wants a “mandatory” turnover program.

“I know this is something that ultimately we [need to] get the Democratic Party on board with, but I would like to see a buyback program and a mandatory turnover,” he told the outlet last month.

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker speaks during a presidential candidates forum sponsored by AARP and The Des Moines Register, Monday, July 15, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Politico reports that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also supports a mandatory program.

Other Democratic candidates—including former Vice President Joe Biden, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock—have voiced support for some sort of buyback program, albeit a voluntary one.

“I think we should have voluntary buybacks,” Bullock said last month. “Let’s look at this as a public health issue. I don’t support a mandatory buyback,” according to Fox News.

And the outcome?

Gun rights groups, meanwhile, consider the idea nothing short of confiscation.

“What you see the Democrat candidates are doing is they simply want to demonize firearms and they’re coming up with the same old failed policies that haven’t worked in the past,” Erich Pratt, the president of Gun Owners of America, told Fox News.

The Editorial Board of USA Today also delivered the opinion:

The legislation would absolutely be doomed if it included a mandatory buyback provision, making millions of law-abiding firearm owners criminals for not selling their rifles back to the federal government. Anything smacking of confiscation would breathe life and energy into the not-from-my-cold-dead-hands crowd, endangering law enforcement and likely putting a full stop to any further gun safety measures.


There has been a familiar pattern in many recent mass killings where someone bent on murder purchases a new assault-style rifle from a licensed dealer and then proceeds to kill.

A new assault-weapons ban—with fewer loopholes than the previous one but without a mandatory buyback provision—would end that path-of-least-resistance opportunity and have the best chance of becoming law.

Lacey Wallace, an assistant professor of criminal justice at Pennsylvania State University, expressed his opinion:

Gun buybacks are financed by taxpayer dollars and are generally paid for by local agencies rather than through state or federal funding. A local jurisdiction’s budget will limit the amount of firearms it can purchase and destroy, reducing the likelihood that a gun buyback will have an observable impact on local crime rates.

Typically, gun buyback programs are run by law enforcement. Understandably, criminal offenders may be hesitant to come to the local police station or interact with law enforcement – even if they are promised exemption from prosecution for weapon possession.

Cost alone may be a prohibiting factor. Assuming a $50 per firearm incentive, reducing the U.S. gun stock by 1 percent would cost $196.5 million. Inevitably, only some of the guns purchased would have been used in future crimes.

But even before we look at ways to pay for a buyback scheme there is one question that needs to be answered—How do you track down ALL the rifles? People acquire rifles in many way, not just by purchasing them through registered dealers, so how would you track them all down. the answer is you can’t so the scheme is doomed to failure even before it starts and anyone suggesting this scheme would know that and is only grandstanding.