Bernie Sanders won't buy back your guns: Democratic candidate slams Beto O’Rourke's 'unconstitutional' idea, calls it 'confiscation'

The 2020 presidential hopeful said in Iowa recently that compulsory buying back of weapons is 'essentially confiscation' and he doesn't support it in principle.

                            Bernie Sanders won't buy back your guns: Democratic candidate slams Beto O’Rourke's 'unconstitutional' idea, calls it 'confiscation'
Bernie Sanders (Source : Getty Images)

Democratic presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders is a vocal critic of gun control but he also thinks that the idea of mandatory gun buybacks is unconstitutional because it is “essentially confiscation”. On Monday, November 11, the Vermont senator was asked during a question-answer session in Charles City, Iowa, whether he would support a compulsory buyback of all deadly weapons in the country as a method to counter the unabated gun violence. 

“A mandatory buyback is essentially confiscation, which I think is unconstitutional,” Sanders said, adding: “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.” Beto O’Rourke, a former Congressman from Texas who quit the presidential race recently, thoroughly favored the idea of mandatory buying back of weapons from Americans to counter the menace although the idea left his party rivals divided. 

Sanders, who is among the top three Democratic candidates running for the nomination for next year’s election along with Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, said gun violence is something he plans to address from the very first day of his presidency. He said apart from setting up background checks and banning sales of assault weapons, he will also take on the National Rifle Association (NRA) head on.

Demonstrators participate in a March for Our Lives rally and march on March 24, 2018 in Killeen, Texas. More than 800 March for Our Lives events, organized by survivors of the Parkland, Florida school shooting on February 14 that left 17 dead, are taking place around the world to call for legislative action to address school safety and gun violence. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

'Won't be intimidated by NRA'

“I will not be intimidated by the NRA. We cannot allow the NRA to dictate policy because they’ve intimidated Trump and they’ve intimidated the Republican Party,” the 78-year-old said. 

The matter came up when a voter at Sanders’ event said that gun violence is an “incredibly complex” and “large epidemic” and that she would support a candidate who treats the issue with priority. Gun violence takes thousands of lives in the US every year and no administration -- whether Republican or Democrat -- has been able to do more than condemning it verbally and sympathizing with the victims’ families. 

The voter then asked Sanders about his plan to deal with the epidemic and whether he would back the mandatory buyback of AR-15s and AK-47s. 

Tim Basington looks over Smith & Wesson pistols at the National Rifle Association of America's (NRA) annual meeting at the Kentucky Exposition Center May 16, 2008 in Louisville, Kentucky. The annual meeting and exhibits for the NRA, which boasts about 4 million members, will run through May 18. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Sanders' stand on gun menace hasn't been consistent

Sanders’ record of stands on the gun violence menace is not consistent, however. In 2005, the veteran politician -- a member of the House then -- supported a law which was backed by the NRA granting legal protections to gun manufacturers. He had even voted against a 1993 bill that favored setting up of national background checks. In 2016, as he joined the presidential race, Sanders reversed his position on protecting gun manufacturers. He said he would co-sponsor a repeal of the law. Weeks later, he said the victims of gun crime should not be able to sue the manufacturer but changed that position yet again after some days, saying they can. 

During his 2020 campaign, Sanders’ campaign has proposed many measures to address gun violence that include increasing the background checks, stopping the sale of high-capacity magazines and banning the sale and distribution of assault weapons to civilians. His campaign’s site has slammed the NRA as “a partisan lobbying public-relations entity for gun manufacturers” though Shannon Watts, founder of the gun-control group Moms Demand Action tweeted in February this year that Sanders “has historically sided with lobbyists” on guns and did not even mention the issue in one of his campaign-launching videos. 

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