Political News

O'Rourke struggles to outline specifics on proposed mandatory gun buyback

Posted October 16, 2019 9:46 a.m. EDT

— Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke struggled on Wednesday to explain how he would make criminals comply with his proposed mandatory buyback of assault-style rifles, a plan that divided Democrats at Tuesday's primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times.

O'Rourke's plan includes a ban on assault-style weapons and for the federal government to buy back firearms, including AK-47s and AR-15s, for a "fair price" -- or otherwise face a fine.

Pressed by CNN's Alisyn Camerota Wednesday on how he planned to get assault-style weapons from people who would be reluctant to hand them over, O'Rourke, a former US representative from Texas, insisted that Americans would abide by the law.

"It's pretty simple. As with any law in this country, we would expect our fellow Americans to follow the law," O'Rourke said on CNN's "New Day."

O'Rourke, however, did not lay out the specifics of how he would remove firearms from anyone who wouldn't comply with his proposed law despite repeated questions from Camerota.

But he told CNN, "If we just throw up our hands and say this is going to be tough to do or some people aren't going to follow the law, then we consign ourselves and become complicit in the deaths of our fellow Americans."

O'Rourke also said he is not suggesting a door-to-door "confiscation" of firearms and cited Australia as an example of a country that implemented a mandatory buyback program in response to a mass shooting.

O'Rourke proposed in August a mandatory buyback for assault-style weapons and a voluntary buyback program for handguns in the wake of a mass shooting in his hometown of El Paso, Texas. During last month's Democratic presidential debate, O'Rourke had declared: "Hell, yes, we're going to take your AR-15, your AK-47."

To fund the program, his plan would raise the excise tax on gun manufacturers and increase fines against gun traffickers.

Under his proposal, individuals who don't participate in the mandatory buyback would be fined.

During Tuesday night's Democratic debate, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg suggested that O'Rourke's proposal was impractical and not fully fleshed out.

"You just made it clear that you don't know how this is actually going to take weapons off the street," he said to O'Rourke. "If you can develop the plan further, I think we can have a debate about it."

O'Rourke hit back, criticizing Buttigieg's past characterization of the proposal as a "shiny object."

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