People who already own the AR-15 and other rifles are afraid the federal or various state governments could “grab” their guns.
President Joe Biden has called for a federal assault weapon ban, but it is unclear if that just means their sales would be barred.
In the past, White House spokeswoman Karine Jean-Pierre has been asked whether the Biden administration would take the next step of confiscating the rifles from law-abiding owners.
Jean-Pierre sidestepped the question. “Let me just be very clear,” the press secretary responded. “What we’re talking about, AR-15s, this assault weapons ban, they are weapons of war, and they should not be on the streets across the country in our communities. They should not be in schools. They should not be in grocery stores. They should not be in churches. That’s what the president believes, and he has done more than any other president the first two years on the executive order,” she said in a news briefing.
The O’Rourke Plan
In 2022, candidate Beto O’Rourke ran for governor of Texas and renewed calls to ban assault weapons after the Uvalde, Texas elementary school mass shooting. O’Rourke, during a run for president in 2019, responded that “Hell yes,” he wanted to confiscate assault weapons from current owners after the El Paso Wal-Mart massacre.
During the governor’s race he wanted to ban the sales of new assault weapons but did not go as far as calling for the confiscation of the weapons. But in 2019, he called for a mandatory government buyback of AR-15s and AK-47 variants. There are more than 20 million assault weapons in the United States. O’Rourke was never clear on how his buyback plan would work, but it would be extraordinarily difficult and dangerous to force such a requirement on current owners of the rifles.
Police departments often run “gun buybacks.” This means that owners can come forward voluntarily to sell their old and unwanted firearms to police with no questions asked. After the buyback the guns are usually destroyed.
A mandatory buyback could mean that police departments would allow owners to receive compensation or trade the assault weapon for a different type of “approved gun.”
It is not clear how this would be administered, and it would likely mean that assault weapons owners would refuse to participate if it were required by law.
The required assault weapon buyback would be incredibly unpopular and could lead to a mass anger by gun owners. It is simply not practical and realistic that AR-15 or AK-47 owners would comply with a forced give back of their favorite rifles.
Plus, the mandatory buyback would likely be ruled unconstitutional by the conservative Supreme Court.
But purchasing the weapons in some states may become difficult for new gun owners who want to buy semi-automatic rifles as some are banning these weapons.
Author Expertise and Experience: Serving as 19FortyFive’s Defense and National Security Editor, Dr. Brent M. Eastwood is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and Foreign Policy/ International Relations.