Swalwell Once Implied He’d Nuke Gun-Owners — Now He’s Running On A Buyback Program

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Virginia Kruta Associate Editor
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Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell once famously implied that he would nuke gun-owners — and now that he’s running for the 2020 Democratic nomination, he’s said that he will push for a buyback program for “assault weapons.”

Swalwell has said numerous times that he would be running on a gun control platform, but he elaborated on that in an Esquire interview with Ryan Lizza, published Sunday. (RELATED: Swalwell Officially Enters 2020 Presidential Race)

Lizza began by asking how Swalwell would set himself apart from other candidates, and the idea of a gun buyback was one of the first things the California congressman mentioned.

I’m going to be an aspirational candidate who believes that in our lifetime we could have 100 percent renewables when it comes to energy; that in our lifetime we could have publicly financed campaigns; that in our lifetime we could buy back and ban every single assault weapon.

Swalwell went on to say that the one issue he would be pushing for harder than any other was gun violence. “I will be the first candidate to say that reducing gun violence has to be a top-three issue,” he said. “Last year I wrote a bill calling for a buyback and ban on assault weapons — not just to ban future manufacturing, but to just take the 15 million that are out there and buy them back.”

Referencing Australia in the 1990s and New Zealand following the recent shootings, Swalwell praised the swift government response that led to bans and buybacks.

Swalwell appeared Monday on “Good Morning America” and clarified that his intent was to push for a buyback of assault weapons. He said, “Keep your rifles, keep your shotguns, keep your pistols,” and argued that the goal was simply to keep the most dangerous firearms away from the most dangerous people.

Swalwell did not offer any details regarding what criteria he would use to define “assault weapon,” nor did he explain how he intended to enforce a mandated buyback program. When challenged about that on Twitter last year, he said that if gun owners fought back, it would be a “short war” — and then implied that the federal government could deploy nuclear force against those who chose not to cooperate.

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