Op-ed views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
When Beto O’Rourke ran for the Senate against Ted Cruz in 2018, he very explicitly said that he had no intentions of trying to grab anyone’s guns:
“If you purchased that AR-15, if you own it, keep it. Continue to use it responsibly… If you own a gun, keep that gun. Nobody wants to take it away from you — at least I don’t want to do that.”
As his target audience moved from Texans in a Senate race to far-Left activists in a presidential primary, his position changed quite a bit:
“Hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47. We’re not going to allow it to be used against our fellow Americans anymore!”
Supposedly, Beto would accomplish this through an Australian style government “buyback.” This is nonsensical and not just because the government never owned the weapons it would be proposing to “buyback.”
Australia made it extremely difficult to buy a new gun as it instituted a gun buyback. This means that in 1996, there were 17.5 guns per hundred people and in 2016, the number was only down to 13.7 per hundred people. So Australia’s big accomplishment was to decrease the number of guns in its nation by 22 percent. How much of a difference would that make in America where there are 101 guns for every 100 citizens and open borders that would allow illegal weapons to stream in if there were ever a large-scale demand for them?
So, what happens when the vast majority of Americans with weapons simply refuse to comply? Certainly, the government could try to prosecute citizens who say, shot people attempting trying to murder their families or women protecting themselves from rapists, but it would be extremely unpopular, embarrassing and in large parts of the country jury nullification and a refusal by local government officials to cooperate would make the law impossible to enforce. In other words, San Francisco and New York might throw a mother in jail for killing a pedophile for trying to abduct her child, but good luck getting a cop in the backcountry of Georgia to arrest her or a judge in rural Idaho or Oklahoma to put her in jail.
The open lawlessness and the fact that an assault weapons ban would do nothing of significance to stop gun violence or mass shootings since only a few hundred people per year out of a nation of 327 million are killed with any kind of rifle, would at some point naturally lead to an escalation by the government. That would eventually mean an attempt to ban handguns and door-to-door confiscations. Now, Beto O’Rourke claims he doesn’t support this because he believes people will “voluntarily” give up their AR-15s. This is of course, ridiculous. If the government declares guns illegal tomorrow, you’ll find that tens of millions of Americans, myself included, had our guns “lost” or “stolen.” That’s because if it comes right down it, most gun owners recognize that it’s better to be judged by 12 than carried by 6.
Once we get to this point, a dangerous line will have been crossed. Roughly 30% of Americans legally own guns and overwhelmingly, these are law-abiding people who are not a threat to the police, the military, their fellow citizens or the government. What happens if the government changes those law-abiding citizens into “outlaws,” unjustly subject to arrest for exercising their Constitutional rights? That depends on how far the government wants to push it. However, real-world experience tells us they will push it to the limit. Think about Eric Garner’s death. Many people were horrified that a man died resisting arrest over something as trivial as selling illegal cigarettes. But if the government puts any kind of law in place, no matter how trivial, eventually men with guns are going to show up and enforce it with violence if necessary.
Of course, you have to wonder who these people would be. Most police departments simply wouldn’t do it. Not just because it would poison their relationship with their local community, but because it would also likely to lead to bloody shoot-outs at best and a half dozen good old boys doing a drive-by on the police chief’s house at 3 a.m. at worst. Even setting aside the fact that it would be illegal for the U.S. military to do it because of the Posse Comitatus Act, the PR-obsessed generals who run things wouldn’t want to destroy all the goodwill towards the military by sending soldiers into politically-motivated shootouts with American citizens.
So, who exactly is going to confiscate the guns? Beto O’Rourke? Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez? Corey Booker? It’s worth noting that in, “The Turner Diaries,” the racist book that inspired Timothy McVeigh, it speculated that a civil war would be sparked by a bunch of Antifa types being sent door-to-door across the country to confiscate weapons. Similarly, Kurt Schlichter’s Kelly Turnbull books about a Red/Blue Civil War (Those books, I would highly recommend) features formerly loyal American townsfolk ambushing similar groups of Left-wing gun confiscators looking to take weapons from the population. Again, if we got to that point in the real world, it seems entirely possible that a serious attempt to confiscate guns would tragically lead to wide-scale violence, bloodshed, and societal unrest.
Granted, practical governance is not a strength of the Left. See Obamacare, the Green New Deal, human feces on the streets of San Francisco and Detroit filing for bankruptcy among many, many other examples for proof of that. However, at some point, it would be nice if anyone on the Left actually mapped out the long-term consequences of the policies they support instead of just publicly advocating whatever they think sounds good at the moment. When Beto O’Rourke talks about gun confiscation, he’s talking about something dangerous not just to the people trying to carry it out, but to the future of our Republic. Maybe something that serious merits being treated as more important than an applause line for a failing politician at a debate.
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