Gun Laws & Legislation

Beto’s Latest Gun Buyback Idea: You Will Voluntarily Comply

REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Guns and Gear Contributor

By Elizabeth McGuigan

Presidential contender Robert “Beto” O’Rourke is second-guessing his idea on the “mandatory” part of his publicized plan to confiscate more than 16 million lawfully owned modern sporting rifles.

O’Rourke’s latest idea might be familiar to movie buffs. If you build it, they will come.  Or in this case, if you pass the laws, they will comply.

“I don’t see the law enforcement going door to door,” said the former Texas congressman. “I see Americans complying with the law. I see us working with gun owners, non-gun owners, local, county, state, federal law enforcement to come up with the best possible solution.”

Here are the problems with that theory. There are already laws that criminals don’t follow. Banning a constitutional right isn’t going to make them suddenly law-abiding. While we wish it were true, O’Rourke can’t just wave a hand, sign a law and suddenly evil vanishes. It’s not just pessimistic thinking.  Criminals prove this out. First, murder is illegal. Felons, with few exceptions, are barred by law from owning firearms. Lying on background check forms is a felony. Lying to buy a gun for someone who is prohibited is a crime. Transferring a firearm to someone prohibited is against the law. Manufacturing and then selling a home-build firearm to anyone is a crime.

What? Me Worry?

O’Rourke’s logic would be maddening if it weren’t so comical. O’Rourke explained there’s be no need for an actual task force knocking door-to-door because if he could just have the law, people would follow it.  In his own words, “How do you — how do we enforce any law? There’s a significant reliance on people complying with the law.”

Daughter of the late U.S. Sen. John McCain, Meghan McCain, warned about any such move. It would trigger widespread violence, making criminals out of those who treasure their Second Amendment rights. That is, of course, if such a law ever passed constitutional muster. That’s on top of the logistical nightmare of thinking about confiscating the more than 16 million modern sporting rifles already in lawful private possession today.  I can’t imagine putting law enforcement officers in the position of having to kick down the front door of their fellow law-abiding Americans to confiscate legally purchased firearms that have never been used in a crime. I suspect many police officers, who sworn an oath to defend the constitution, would refuse to follow orders from anti-gun politicians to violate the constitutional rights of their neighbors.

“The AR-15 is by far the most popular gun in America. … I was just in the middle of nowhere Wyoming, if you’re talking about going and taking people’s guns away from them, there’s going to be a lot of violence,” McCain said on the daytime talk show, The View.

The Lady’s Right

She’s got a point. What O’Rourke and the many others who talk about a straight-out gun confiscation with milquetoast phrases like “mandatory buyback” isn’t without precedent.  That’s right. It’s been done here in America with deadly results. The standing government in America then wore a crown and sent men in uniforms, with guns, to the small Massachusetts towns of Lexington and Concord. Americans revolted. The result was a new nation, with God-given rights, including the right to keep and bear arms.

Elizabeth McGuigan is the Director of Legislative & Policy Research for the National Shooting Sports Foundation.