Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont put some distance Sunday between himself and some other Democratic presidential candidates by opposing so-called mandatory gun “buybacks.”
Mandatory “buybacks” of AR-15 rifles and other so-called “assault weapons” was a signature proposal of former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who has since dropped out of the presidential race.
During a green jobs town hall in Charles City, Iowa, Sanders was asked about his position on “buybacks.”
“I don’t support — mandatory buybacks is essentially confiscation, which I think is unconstitutional,” Sanders said.
“It means that I’m going to walk into your house and take something whether you like it or not. I don’t think that stands up to constitutional scrutiny,” he added.
Other candidates have been more open to the idea.
Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Cory Booker of New Jersey support “buybacks” of so-called “assault weapons,” The New York Times has reported.
Others, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg support voluntary “buyback” programs, as does Sanders.
Sanders has also proposed restrictions on so-called “assault weapons” that fall short of a “buyback.”
“I think what we can do, way back when Ronald Reagan was president, before that, you could own a machine gun, which is even worse than an assault weapon, you know that really mows down people,” Sanders said in a September interview with Cosmopolitan.
“And we passed laws for very strong registration, which basically eliminated the private ownership of machine guns. You could not go out and buy a machine gun. I think that’s exactly the direction we should go in terms of assault weapons.”
On Sunday, Sanders said his gun control plan includes battling the National Rifle Association and gun manufacturers.
“We cannot allow the NRA to dictate policy because they’ve intimidated Trump and they’ve intimidated the Republican Party,” Sanders said. “I’m not going to be intimidated by them.”
Sanders said background checks should be universal.
“We need to greatly expand background checks,” Sanders said. “People who have a history of violence should not be owning guns. People who have a history of domestic violence should not be owning guns. That’s kind of a no-brainer.”
Sanders said he would close the so-called “gun show loophole” that he claimed allows buyers to evade a background check by buying firearms at a gun show.
If elected, Sanders said he would ban “assault weapons.” At the event, he did not define which weapons he would classify as “assault weapons.”
“These are weapons not used for hunting. These are weapons used and designed to kill people and as rapidly as you can,” Sanders said.
Sanders also called for action against manufacturers who sell guns “into areas where they know — or should know — that those guns are not just going to regular people.”
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