On April 16, 2019, Fox News host Tucker Carlson found himself in a heated exchange with The Collective PAC founder Quentin James.
The debate centered around the controversial California Congressman Eric Swalwell’s gun control proposals. Swalwell gained notoriety for his comments that implied the government would nuke gun owners in a Civil War scenario.
Despite receiving tremendous backlash for his comments, Swalwell announced his candidacy for the 2020 presidential elections on April 8, 2019. Swalwell’s campaign will be centered around gun control.
Nearly a year ago, Swalwell advocated for a forced buyback for “military-style” weapons. This became the centerpiece of the Tucker Carlson vs. Quentin James debate as Swalwell has continued to advocate for assault weapons bans in the wake of the New Zealand shootings.
James defended the Congressman, claiming that Carlson, “had it a little wrong.” He clarified that “Congressman Eric Swalwell did say he wants to ban military-style assault rifles. He also said that folks who want to keep them would be able to do so at a gun club or a hunter’s range in a locker, so it’s not taking them by force. It would be a buyback program.”
However, Tucker rebutted this claim by pointing out that Swalwell’s program is “not a buyback program, that’s a gun confiscation by force,” because law-abiding gun owners who refuse to turn in their guns would be thrown in jail under Swalwell’s gun control scheme.
This type of buyback program is inspired by Australia’s program in the 1990s where more than 650,000 “assault weapons” were handed to national officials.
Although this program was able to reduce the supply of firearms from 3.2 million to 2.2 million, there was no dramatic decline in homicide or suicide rates that many gun control proponents expected. Interestingly, this buyback did not reduce overall gun ownership in the long-term. From 1997 up until the present, the number of guns in circulation went from 2.5 million to 5.8 million.
In the 1990s, gun controllers achieved a major victory through the enactment of the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban (AWB). However, the claim that assault weapons were behind the majority of mass shootings is misguided at best. According to Gary Kleck’s study Targeting Guns, so-called “assault weapons” were used in 1.4 percent of crimes involving firearms before the passage of federal AWB.
Currently, the AR-15 is the whipping boy for gun control advocates despite evidence showing that they are rarely used during homicides. Being Classically Liberal exposes this myth in an article for the Foundation for Economic Education:
With an average of 13,657 homicides per year during the 2007-2017 timeframe, about one-tenth of one percent of homicides were produced by mass shootings involving AR-15s.
The Parkland shooting of 2018 was a Rubicon moment for gun control nationwide. Blue states immediately passed all sorts of gun control from raising the age to buy firearms to bump stock bans.
Swalwell’s 2020 campaign is an extension of this trend. In all likelihood, Swalwell will not win the Democratic nomination. However, his presidential run like Andrew Yang’s serves as an issue focused campaign that makes an effort to shift the public’s opinion on misguided policies.
From 1993 to 2013, gun ownership per capita increased by 56 percent while gun violence dropped by 49 percent at the same time. All of this progress on gun rights could go to waste should the current gun control proposals that Swalwell and company are putting forward become law.
As the years go by, gun owners appear to have fewer friends left in Congress.