Democratic presidential hopeful Rep. Eric Swalwell on Monday stood outside the National Rifle Association headquarters in Fairfax, Virginia, to unveil a gun-control plan that includes banning assault weapons, instituting a gun buyback program and requiring licenses for all gun owners.
He promised to “restore hope in America’s cities, so people don’t resort to the lowest form of communication: violence.”
What would the plan do?
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The California Democrat, who named gun violence a “top-tier” issue and a “health care crisis,” called for banning “every single” assault weapon and buying back such weapons from those who already have them. Swalwell, a former prosecutor, last year proposed a ban on “possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons.”
Swalwell said he would hold weapon manufacturers responsible by “lifting the shield of liability that protects” them, and he said gun licensing procedures should include buying insurance. He said everyone who buys a firearm should go through a background check, but he did not detail what that process should entail.
He also said he would work on legislation to keep people with mental health issues from getting guns and vowed to create a national firearms database.
How much would it cost?
Swalwell said in a May op-ed that buying back assault weapons could cost as much as $15 billion, which he said was a small amount compared to the federal government’s overall spending. He did not go into detail Monday about where he’d find the money, but he said repealing the Trump administration’s Tax Cuts and Job Act and spending less on nuclear weapons would help fund his plan.
Swalwell also has praised Australia’s gun control model, which funded a buyback program through a temporary increase in the tax on the national health insurance program.
What have other Democrats proposed?
Combating gun violence has become a central tenet of the Democratic policy platform. Cory Booker (D-N.J.) rolled out a 14-part plan last month that also includes a federal gun-licensing program. It would require a comprehensive FBI background check and proof of completion of a gun safety course to obtain a firearm. He also would ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as bump stocks. Similarly, Booker wants states to press for red-flag laws, though he does not specify how he would enact such sweeping reforms.
Sen. Cory Booker also said in May that he would call for the IRS to reexamine the NRA’s tax-exempt status. Swalwell did not directly promise to target the organization on Monday.
In April, Kamala Harris proposed implementing universal background checks, rolling back a measure that prevents victims from holding gun-makers and firearm dealers liable for their losses, and closing the boyfriend loophole by extending gun restrictions that apply to people convicted of stalking, assaulting or abusing a spouse or child to those who have harmed a dating partner.
Who opposes it?
The NRA has fiercely pushed back on most efforts to curb access to guns, as have most Republicans.