President Obama avoided talking too much about gun control because his advisors saw it as political suicide. Those Democrats seeking to go the distance today are doing the opposite.
Increased gun control has become a major part of most of the Democratic presidential candidates’ campaigns, and all of the front runners have adopted positions on the issue that are very similar to the policy goals of the major gun control lobbying groups, such as Everytown for Gun Safety, The Giffords Law Center, and the Brady Campaign. In one case, Democrats are advocating for confiscation of assault weapons, pushing even further than the goals those gun control groups have outlined.
The stated goals of the gun control lobbying groups include commonly talked about measures such as, the expansion of background checks to include private sales, an assault weapons ban, and magazine limitations.
The most commonly proposed plan is a ban on what are frequently referred to as assault weapons, and sometimes ‘weapons of war.’ Banning these firearms is a legislative goal that has been taken by every single one of the Democratic frontrunners, in some cases for decades, as Ex-Vice President Joe Biden voted for the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban that expired in 2004.
Each of the Democratic candidate frontrunners either has a proposed ban listed on their website, provided a statement in support of one, or has explicitly stated, either on the campaign trail or in a debate, that they would support an assault weapons ban. (RELATED: Dana Loesch Hits Gun Control Logic)
This week, following the shootings in Dayton and El Paso, both the Buttigieg and Sanders campaigns published statements about their gun control plans. Sanders’ says that “the function of an assault weapon is to kill human beings as quickly as possible,” and that there is a need to “ban the manufacture, sale and transfer of these weapons of war. Period.” A Buttigieg staffer directed The Daily Caller to their article outlining gun control legislative plans, which include banning “assault weapons and high capacity magazines,” both of which he refers to as “military grade weaponry.” The other candidates did not respond to requests for statements, but have previously voiced their support for an assault weapons ban.
Universal background checks are another issue where the gun control lobby and the Democratic candidates see eye-to-eye. Each of the frontrunners have spoken out in support of increasing the scope and scale of background checks.
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren answered a question about gun control from a moderator during the June 26 presidential debate by saying, “We can do the things that are sensible, we can do the universal background checks, we can ban the weapons of war.”
California Democratic Senator Kamala Harris has even promised, if elected president, to use her authority to issue an executive order to mandate “near universal background checks.” Her campaign website states, “If Congress fails to send comprehensive gun safety legislation to Harris’ desk within her first 100 days as president – including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and the repeal of the NRA’s corporate gun manufacturer and dealer immunity bill – she will take executive action to keep our kids and communities safe.”
In 1996, Australia instituted a mandatory gun buy-back program which resulted in over 700,000 firearms being turned in to the government, and is often held up by Democrats as a model worth imitating.
A mass involuntary confiscation or Australian style buy-back of the existing 8-15 million so called assault rifles is a position that several Democratic front runners have taken, and is a policy area in which they actually go further than both the Brady Campaign and Everytown for Gun Safety. Kris Brown, co-president of the Brady Campaign said, “I think it’s pretty clear from the program we do support that it’s about keeping guns out of dangerous hands and not about confiscating guns,” in a statement provided to NBC News.
While he never approached the position of front runner, and has since dropped out of the presidential race, California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell has been one of the most outspoken in support of a buyback. In a back and forth during between Swalwell and Sanders during the June 27 Democratic debate, Swalwell pressed Sanders by asking, “Would you buy them [assault weapons] back?” Sanders responded in the affirmative.
In the same debate Biden said “And I would buy back those weapons, we already started talking about that, we tried to get it done, I think it can be done and it should be demanded that we do it, and that’s a good expenditure of money.” Former Democratic Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke has also indicated his support of a mandatory buyback, saying on a podcast, “Yes, and I’m open to them right now as a candidate. It absolutely has to be part of the conversation. And at the end of the day, if it’s going to save lives, if it’s going to prevent the kinds of tragedies that we saw in El Paso, Gilroy, and Dayton, or this weekend in Chicago or all over this country on a daily basis, then let’s move forward and do it.”
The gun control lobby and the Democratic Party are very closely aligned in their desire to advance a gun control agenda. Judging by the fact that several leading Democrats are pushing the envelope further than the gun control lobby, it would appear that Democrats have decided that running on gun control is a winning issue.