By now, everyone who has had the time and inclination to pay attention to the Democrat presidential debates knows that during the third debate, on September 12, “Beto” O’Rourke bellowed that “we” are going to confiscate Americans’ semi-automatic rifles. Thereafter, Sen. Chris Coons and fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg, concerned that O’Rourke’s rant may decrease Democrats’ chances of getting gun control through Congress, tried to suggest that support for gun confiscation is an outlier in their party.
O’Rourke is indeed something of an outlier. He tried to run away from a car wreck he caused when he was driving under the influence. He wrote a story about having fun running over children with a car. Under the pseudonym “Psychedelic Warlord,” he wrote a poem, “The Song of the Cow,” that is too warped and vulgar to be quoted here.
After failing to unseat Sen. Ted Cruz, O’Rourke ate dirt that he thought had “regenerative powers.” He says America was founded on racism. He says reparations for slavery should be considered. He says felons should be allowed to vote while in prison. He says walls along our southern border should be torn down. He says we should eliminate the Electoral College. He says we are all going to die from “global warming” in 12 years. And he supports abortion with few, if any limits.
Coons and Buttigieg are wrong, of course. O’Rourke’s support for gun confiscation is not an outlier, it is pervasive in the Democrat Party. In addition to O’Rourke, at least four other Democrats who participated in the third debate have come out for confiscating guns too.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), leader of the effort in Congress to impose a ban that is much more severe than the anemic one she authored in the early 1990s, has also come out for confiscation. On December 5, 1995, on CBS’s “60 Minutes,” Feinstein said “there is no question that I would have preferred to see an outright ban on the possession of semi-automatic assault weapons in America” and “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States for an outright ban, picking up every one of them, Mr. and Mrs. America turn them all in, I would have done it.”
However we should not get distracted, counting which Democrats support banning new guns and magazines and which additionally support confiscating guns and magazines already owned. The most important take-away in all of this is that all 10 Democrats who participated in their party’s third presidential debate (and all members of Congress who support a “ban” in any form) advocate an end state in which everyone will be banned from possessing what are currently the most popular rifles, rifle magazines, and handgun magazines in America.
Here’s why. Five of those 10 candidates advocate an intergenerational ban—one that would prohibit the manufacture and sale of new guns and magazines, but allow current owners of the guns and magazines to keep them. The other five—former vice-president Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, and Cory Booker; and O’Rourke—are not willing to wait for current owners to die. They want those owners’ guns and magazines confiscated now. Thus in the long-term, there would be no difference between a ban on new guns and magazines, and a ban on existing guns and magazines too. Eventually, the result would be the same: No one would be allowed to possess the guns and magazines.
The same non-existent “divide” exists with the other big gun control issue on the front burner today—“universal” background checks. Democrats and a small number of Republicans (e.g., Sen. Pat Toomey and Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick) advocate “universal” checks, a step toward transforming the background check system into a gun registry. Less patient Democrats advocate gun registration (and gun owner licensing) now, knowing it will be needed to enforce gun confiscation in the future. And, as noted, Biden, Sanders, Harris, Booker, and O’Rourke are even less patient, insisting that guns be confiscated now.
Supporters of the right to keep and bear arms should therefore oppose a non-confiscatory ban with the same vigor as one that includes confiscation. Current owners of the guns and magazines that Democrats want to ban should not be silent, on the grounds that a non-confiscatory ban wouldn’t affect them. If Republican members of Congress vote for a non-confiscatory ban, they cannot ask for gun owners’ votes in 2020 on the grounds that they didn’t vote for a confiscatory ban.
The Supreme Court might overturn a ban. But if a law prohibiting people from acquiring the best firearms and magazines for defensive purposes, including the core defensive purpose contemplated in the Second Amendment, were allowed to stand, there would be no barrier to prohibiting the possession of the new offensive and defensive weapons and related technologies that are being developed as we speak. Unless O’Rourke is right about “global warming,” the future is a very long time, and its fate begins now.