Beto O’Rourke has announced that he favors a ban on assault weapons, specifically AR-15s. His call for banning the sale of the AR-15s exposes the fundamental failure of the gun debate in America, the fact that millions of guns are already on the streets.
Beto explained that he wants to ban new sales of AR-15s. Beto wants those who already own the guns to “responsibly” continue to own them. Therein lies the elephant in the room. What to do with the guns already in private ownership.
The debate over gun control must include a solution to what to do with the guns already in American hands. The options are: 1. confiscate all guns, 2. stop the sale of new guns, but allow current owners to keep their guns, or 3. stop selling new guns and force private owners to sell their guns to the government under penalty of the law.
So, let us look at the three options.
Option one is near impossible because the government would need to circumvent the U.S. Constitution on several levels, assuming that the Second Amendment can be clarified to allow guns to be classified as prohibited. The problem comes down to interfering in the private ownership of assets by Americans. Like it or not, guns in private hands have an inherent value and Americans do not believe the government can take away private assets without a violation of the law.
Beto likes option two, stop selling new guns but allow those who already own guns to keep them. There are millions of guns already in private hands. Banning the sale of certain guns would artificially raise the value of guns already in private hands. Additionally, with millions of guns already in private hands, how will the sale of new guns stop the violence that any such legislation hopes to control?
Someone intent on killing doesn’t care if they buy their guns, steal the gun, or get a gun some other way. In other words, banning the sale of new guns does not solve the problem it intends to solve.
The third option is the banning of the sale of guns and requiring current gun owners to identify to the government the guns they own and sell them to the government. It solves the inherent problems in option one, constitutional issues and the guns already on the street.
Americans tend to be law abiding for fear of the repercussions of violating the law. Option three would gather most guns in private hands but not all. Regardless, a large percentage of guns taken off the streets would help alleviate the problem of gun violence.
However, who is going to pay for the guns?
Are taxpayers ready to pay for the program to identify, compel compliance and pay for the guns that are recovered? It is not as simple as millions of dollars because the undertaking would require large resources in labor and technology to force compliance, not to mention the amounts to be paid per gun.
Will taxpayers pony up to buy guns in private hands?