For U.S. Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.), some things will never get old, like calling for a complete ban on America’s most popular semiautomatic rifle, the Modern Sporting Rifle (MSR). Or ignoring criminals. Or taking to social media immediately after a tragedy, before facts are known, and pushing for more gun control.
“Ban assault weapons. Buy them ALL back. Choose our kids over their killers,” the one-time failed presidential candidate posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
A gun ban and confiscation is a favored gun control ploy for the California Congressman. The only thing is, he’s dreaming.
Three innocent lives were tragically lost and there were serious questions raised in the wake of the racist attack on African Americans. The murderer, it’s been revealed, had a history of mental health struggles, including an “involuntary commitment” in Florida under the state’s Baker Act. The murderer who had stopped taking his psychiatric medicine also left several manifestos, a suicide note and painted racist Nazi graphics on his firearms. This person was not well and was set on causing pain to the community and taking his own life.
In giving a press conference update, Jacksonville Sheriff T.K. Waters rejected the narrative of blaming the firearm over the murderer.
“The story’s always about guns.” Sheriff Waters said. “This guy’s a bad guy. If I could take my gun off right now and lay it on this counter, nothing will happen… But as soon as a wicked person grabs ahold of that handgun and starts shooting people with it, there’s the problem. The problem is the individual.”
It was also revealed that the murderer criminally misused both an AR-15-style rifle and a handgun. None of the facts mattered to Rep. Swalwell. His solution is always the same. It’s not to lock up criminals or make sure those who can’t trusted are prohibited from possessing guns. He’s got only one answer – take away Constitutional rights from others.
A Long History
This most recent episode isn’t the first time Rep. Swalwell has demanded the government confiscate the private property of law-abiding Americans. He’s done it a lot, actually.
“We should ban possession of military-style semiautomatic weapons,” Rep. Swalwell said. “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.”
At the time, the California congressman added hyperbolic threats and that anyone who resisted should be nuked by the U.S. Government. Tapper pushed, asking if criminal prosecution meant the congressman believed Americans who held on to their guns would go to jail.
“They would,” Rep. Swalwell shot back. He added that he wished American gun control was more like New Zealand and Australia. It didn’t matter that Tapper rightly reiterated that “the vast majority of gun-related deaths in this country are not related to these semiautomatic assault weapons.”
The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports consistently demonstrate that more murders are committed with knives, fists and clubs than by rifles of all kinds – not just the MSR, AR-15-style rifles Rep. Swalwell wants to ban. Again, the facts don’t matter.
Rep. Swalwell made a similar demand later in 2019, again pushing confiscation. And once again, the congressman held up New Zealand as a shining example. At the time, that country only had a total of approximately 1.2-1.5 million firearms with an expected taxpayer cost of roughly $300 million. Canada’s mandatory buyback boondoggle is even worse.
Still later in 2019, then on the debate stage as a presidential candidate for the Democratic nomination, Rep. Swalwell used his time to call for a mandatory gun buyback and even labeled the several million MSR owners as “the most dangerous people” requiring confiscation.
“Keep your pistols, keep your rifles, keep your shotguns, but we can take the most dangerous weapons from the most dangerous people,” the congressman said.
Unsurprisingly, Rep. Swalwell’s campaign quickly flamed out.
The “most dangerous people” Rep. Swalwell derided as possessing AR-15-style rifles aren’t who he thinks they are. In fact, maybe – just maybe – the congressman would be surprised to learn who is buying MSRs today. Firearm industry data pegs at least 24.4 million MSRs in circulation today since 1990. That makes them more commonly-owned than the number of Ford F-150 pickup trucks on the road today.
Currently, there have been more than 1 million FBI National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) verifications run for the purchase of a firearm for 48 months straight – that’s four years. Industry data also reveals the gun-owning community, including millions of new first-time gun owners, has never been more diverse than it is now, with large percentages of African Americans, Asian Americans, Hispanic Americans and other minority groups all buying firearms, including MSRs.
These are not “the most dangerous people” Rep. Swalwell accuses them of being. They are law-abiding, freedom-loving Americans exercising their Second Amendment rights and they all would likely love to tell Rep. Swalwell where he can put his mandatory confiscation plans.
Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.