When debate moderator Chuck Todd asked the Democratic candidates which issue they’d tackle first as president, only one candidate named gun control as his top priority. That candidate, California Rep. Eric “Nuke ‘Em!” Swalwell, has now become the first person to drop out of the 2020 race.
“After the first Democratic presidential debate, our polling and fundraising numbers weren’t what we had hoped for, and I no longer see a path forward to the nomination,” Swalwell said in a statement.
Still, he doesn’t believe his efforts were all for naught. He bragged that three “top-tier” Democratic candidates have embraced “my idea” to ban and buy back every single “assault weapon” in the United States.
“Putting this idea and the larger issue of gun violence front and center in the Democratic policy discussion is an accomplishment, dedicated to the students, moms, and other activists who tirelessly demand action to save American lives,” he said.
Swalwell tried to differentiate himself from the crowded race by making radical gun control his signature policy issue. His impossibly long list of gun control proposals included gun confiscation, a mandatory 48-hour waiting period, universal background checks, national gun licensing, and limits on ammunition purchases to 200 rounds per month.
Swalwell claimed throughout his campaign that majorities of Americans—including gun owners and NRA members—supported his agenda. Last week he posted a video on Twitter touting the common ground he found between himself, Shannon Watts, and gun owners, claiming that America needs a president that will “ride the momentum” of support for gun control in the United States.
We are going to end gun violence. We are not going to end responsible gun ownership, hunting, and target shooting. pic.twitter.com/zXP9oLVk9r— Eric Swalwell (@ericswalwell) July 6, 2019
SEE ALSO: Swalwell’s Rally Falls Flat as He Announces Most Draconian Gun-Ban Proposal of All 2020 Candidates
That momentum turned out to be more of a ripple than a tidal wave. Swalwell never garnered more than “0%” of the potential vote, lower than the “someone else” or “other” option included in most data (1-2%).
Still, while Swalwell likely cannot claim credit for the shift, it is true that top-tier Democratic presidential candidates are pushing for policies that would have been unpalatable a decade ago. Sen. Kamala Harris (CA), for example, who is now rivaling Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT) for second place in the race, has vowed to use executive action to implement near-universal background checks, close the so-called “boyfriend loophole,” and prohibit people with arrest warrants from buying guns.
Her campaign has also expressed support for banning “assault weapons” and “high-capacity” magazines.
Though not a top-tier candidate in terms of polling, Sen. Cory Booker (NJ) remains in the race and has, like Swalwell, voiced support for a nationalized gun licensing scheme and universal background checks.
To his credit, Swalwell’s anti-gun focus began long before he entered the crowded 2020 field. In November of 2018, the Golden State rep. made headlines when he threatened to nuke gun owners who refused to comply with his gun buyback program.
And it would be a short war my friend. The government has nukes. Too many of them. But they’re legit. I’m sure if we talked we could find common ground to protect our families and communities.— Rep. Eric Swalwell (@RepSwalwell) November 16, 2018