Former presidential candidate Rep. Eric Swalwell (D., Calif.) endorsed an Australia-style buyback program during a congressional hearing on gun control Wednesday morning.
“My proposal would be to do what Australia did, which would be to have a buyback,” Swalwell said. He added that under his proposal gun owners would be able to use their “military-style” weapons at a shooting range or a hunting club, but “nowhere else in our community.”
Swalwell said the availability of semiautomatic rifles is to blame for a spate of mass shootings that have left dozens of Americans dead in 2019. The Australian government instituted a buyback program after a mass shooting in 1996. Over the course of a year, the government bought back approximately 20 percent of the guns in the country. Homicide and suicide rates decreased, although some researchers have disputed whether these decreases were directly caused by the buyback program.
On his website, Swalwell says he supports banning “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” through a buyback program and subsequent prosecution for gun owners who do not cooperate. The buyback exempts shooting clubs and law enforcement. Swalwell said that he supports a ban on future sales on “military-style” weapons, but believes more immediate action is necessary to curb the supply of semiautomatic rifles popular among mass shooters. If the weapons are dangerous in the future, they’re dangerous today, he argued.