Democratic presidential candidate and former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke expressed openness to a mandatory gun buyback program in America, similar to the one instituted in Australia, he said on the podcast “Pod Save America.”
O’Rourke, who has in the past expressed a desire to remove AR-15s from public possession and use, made the comment after the mass murders in El Paso, Texas. and Dayton, Ohio, over the weekend.
“Yes, and I’m open to them right now as a candidate,” O’Rourke said. “It absolutely has to be part of the conversation. If at the end of the day it’s going to save lives, if it’s going to prevent the kind of tragedies that we saw in El Paso or Gilroy or Dayton or this weekend in Chicago or all over this country on a daily basis, then let’s move forward and do it.”
What did Australia do?
O’Rourke was referring to the National Firearms Agreement, passed in Australia in 1996. The law banned the possession of shotguns and semi-automatic rifles in all but “exceptional circumstances.”
The law was a response to mass shootings, one which saw 35 people killed by a gunman with a semi-automatic rifle, and another shooting involving a gunman who was armed with two legally owned rifles and four handguns and walked into an elementary school, killing 16 4- and 5-year-old children and a teacher.
Under that law, “self-defense” was not a valid legal reason to own a gun, and all gun owners had to obtain government licenses. “Genuine reasons” for owning a gun in Australia include “sports, recreational shooting/hunting, collecting, or occupational requirements.”
The buyback program in Australia resulted in more than 700,000 weapons being surrendered in 1996 and 1997.
O’Rourke claimed that he would have bipartisan support for such a program.
“I come from Texas and this is a very proud, gun-owning state, but I know from listening to people in Texas — gun owners, Republicans, non-gun owners, Democrats, Independents, everyone — people want to make sure that their kids are okay, that their families are safe, that their children don’t fear the future or going into school or being at a concert, or going to Walmart on a Saturday morning,” O’Rourke said.