During Tuesday Democratic presidential debate, CNN’s Anderson Cooper asked Beto O’Rourke about how he’d enforce his mandatory “buyback” program for modern sporting rifles.
“I expect my fellow Americans to follow the law,” the former Texas congressman explained. “The same way that we enforce any provision, any law that we have right now. We don’t go door-to-door to do anything in this country to enforce the law.”
Justifiably so, Cooper was not satisfied with that answer.
After all, there are roughly 16 million AR- and AK-pattern rifles in circulation owned by individuals who are hypersensitive to government overreach and, therefore, not all that inclined to obey a confiscation scheme that manifestly contravenes the U.S. Constitution.
Cooper pressed further for clarity.
“Your website says you will fine people who don’t give up their weapons. That doesn’t take those weapons off the streets,” Cooper said. “So, to be clear, exactly how are you going to take away weapons from people who do not want to give them up, and you don’t know where they are?”
O’Rourke countered, “If someone does not turn in an AR-15 or an AK-47, one of these weapons of war, or brings it out in public and brandishes it in an attempt to intimidate — as we saw when we were at Kent State recently — then that weapon will be taken from them.”
“If they persist, there will be other consequences from law enforcement,” he added.
What those “consequences” will be was not articulated. But O’Rourke needs to tell voters what they are because if he gets his wish and a mandatory “buyback” is enacted, there will be widespread noncompliance.
How do we know this for sure?
Just look at New Zealand. It rolled out its buyback several months ago and the latest numbers indicate that less than 10 percent of the newly outlawed weapons have been turned over to authorities. The program continues until Dec. 20 before violators will be prosecuted. But still, even if that number doubles to 20 percent, or even grows to 30 percent, between now and that December deadline, that would mean that a significant majority refused to obey the order.
It should be noted that unlike the U.S., one does not have a constitutionally-protected right to keep and bear arms in New Zealand. Gun culture, in other words, is a cornerstone of American life. It perhaps goes without saying but the nation’s 80 million or so gun owners aren’t going to sit on their hands while Beto’s confiscation squads start seizing guns.
Bottom line: O’Rourke, or any other politician wishing to confiscate firearms, will have their work cut out for them.