15TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT
East Bay Rep. Eric Swalwell wants to reinstitute the ban on assault weapons passed by Congress in 1994, but subsequently allowed to sunset 10 years later and replace it with a comprehensive ban and weapons buyback program.
While the previous law also prohibited the sale and production of new semi-automatic assault weapons, it still left millions of high-powered guns in existence. Swalwell hopes to go further, according to his opinion piece in USA Today. Swalwell previewed the proposal at a town hall last week in San Lorenzo.
“Instead, we should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic assault weapons, we should buy back such weapons from all who choose to abide by the law, and we should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons. The ban would not apply to law enforcement agencies or shooting clubs,” he wrote.
The gun buyback strategy was famously used in Australia following the murder of 35 people in 1996 by a gunman using a semi-automatic weapon. This particular program cost Australian taxpayers $230 million in 1996, said Swalwell. “America won’t get off that cheaply. Gun ownership runs so deep that we don’t even know how many military-style semiautomatic rifles are in U.S. civilian hands.”
In the piece, Swalwell suggests the federal government could pay owners of semi-automatic weapons up to $1,000 per firearm in order to take the weapon out of circulation. Such a program could cost roughly $15 billion, he suggests. “No small sum,” said Swalwell, but just over one-third of one percent of all U.S. annual spending.