Not to be outdone on gun control in the 2020 Democratic primary field, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke put out a long list of policy proposals on Friday morning that includes a reinstatement of the 1994 ban on “assault weapons,” a mandatory gun buyback program, and a national gun registry.
“Since the assault weapons ban expired in 2004, mass shootings have skyrocketed and become deadlier,” a campaign statement said. “Beto will work with Congress to ban the manufacturing, sale, and possession of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.”
The 1994 “assault weapons” ban was primarily focused on guns’ cosmetic features and didn’t do much to deter gun crime at all. As the 10-year ban came to a close in 2004, University of Pennsylvania researchers said, “We cannot clearly credit the ban with any of the nation’s recent drop in gun violence.”
In fact, a Washington Post fact check recently gave former President Bill Clinton “Two Pinocchios” for saying that the 1994 ban led to “a big drop in mass shooting deaths.”
O’Rourke’s plan also calls for a mandatory buyback program — i.e. confiscation with compensation — for so-called “assault weapons” and a voluntary buyback program for handguns. Those who do not participate in the mandatory program would face a fine.
Furthermore, the proposal would force all gun owners to register their firearms and require that all new handguns be microstamped. Microstamping is when small stamps on the internal mechanisms of a gun meant to leave identifiable marks on the cartridge casing. Challengers of California’s microstamping law have asked the Supreme Court to take up their case.
O’Rourke’s plan would limit people to making one firearm purchase per month, direct federal law enforcement to designate anyone who sells more than five of their guns as a gun “dealer” subject to background check requirements, and declare gun violence a “public health crisis.” It also calls on federal law enforcement to “prioritize right-wing violence” as a threat.
The proposal also calls for federal gun licensing and says that President O’Rourke would “work with Congress to create a nationwide gun licensing system that will ensure individuals seeking a gun undergo an assessment by law enforcement and a background check.” Fellow 2020 Democratic candidate and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker proposed a federal license months ago. At the time, O’Rourke called the idea “may be too far.“
The news comes a day after the former Texas representative and failed 2018 Senate candidate’s campaign attempted to reset his struggling presidential bid with a vow to focus more on attacking President Donald Trump.
The gun control proposal also grants credence to O’Rourke’s Thursday statement that he will “not in any scenario” drop out of the presidential race to run for Senate again, as running this far to the left on gun control will pretty much destroy his chances at the statewide level in the Lone Star State going forward.