It’s been nearly three months since a shooter in Parkland, Florida, claimed 17 lives with a military-grade rifle inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Thanks to the bravery of the survivors of that massacre, the debate about gun control in the United States has continued at a steady pace.
Solutions have been proposed by various gun activists including the Parkland teens, but almost everyone seems afraid to tackle the gross amount of firearms already in civilian possession, the most dangerous of which are typically exempt from such proposals.
According to NBC News, a California Democrat is finally ready to challenge that notion. Rep. Eric Stalwell has proposed outlawing “military-style semiautomatic assault weapons” and forcing existing gun owners to sell their weapons or face prosecution. Stalwell penned an op-ed for USA Today with the brilliant title “Ban assault weapons, buy them back, go after resisters.”
The piece aptly points out that all prior proposals to ban assault weapons “would leave millions of assault weapons in our communities for decades to come.”
Stalwell’s proposal suggests up to a $1,000 buyback for every weapon covered by a new ban. He estimates a price tag of $15 billion to reclaim 15 million weapons with the important caveat to “criminally prosecute any who choose to defy [the buyback] by keeping their weapons.”
The policy is modeled after Australia’s mandatory gun buyback laws, which were instituted under a conservative government after a gunman killed 35 people at a popular tourist site in 1996. Supporters credit the campaign with a broad reduction in gun violence and the country hasn’t suffered a similar mass shooting in the years since.
“Australia got it right,” Swalwell wrote.
Typically, Democrats are too afraid of conservative retaliation to make suggestions like Stalwell’s. It’s not surprising, considering the NRA’s propagation that such measures of “gun confiscation” are a slippery slope inevitably leading to the loss of other liberties, but constant inaction from the Democrats on this crisis has been just as problematic.
Stalwell bravely stood up to these arguments, pointing out that he and other Democrats defer too often to Second Amendment activists. Instead, he demands that we learn from the Parkland activists, the only group to effectively hold the country’s attention on this discussion since Columbine nineteen years ago.
“There’s something new and different about the surviving Parkland high schoolers’ demands. They dismiss the moral equivalence we’ve made for far too long regarding the Second Amendment. I’ve been guilty of it myself, telling constituents and reporters that ‘we can protect the Second Amendment and protect lives.’”
Stalwell’s pursuit of the matter is refreshing, as he appears to join several other Democrats who’ve jumped father left after too long toeing the center line on matters such as these. Instead, he writes, “the right to live is supreme over any other.”
Politicians and activists have long lauded Australia’s successful eradication of gun violence as an “inspiration,” but even the most progressive have left it there. Presumably, fear of losing the corporate sponsorships on which they so depend to function has prevented them from making the very logical suggestion that we follow Australia’s life-saving lead.
At best, most gun safety groups have pushed for tougher background checks and a better system of tracking existing weapons, but no one has had the chutzpah to make the most logical move for weapons with no purpose beyond murder – until Stalwell, that is.
Unfortunately, this isn’t yet a piece of legislation – merely an op-ed – but it is yet another glimmer of hope that the tide in this country is finally turning away from the NRA’s corporate interests.
We may just come out of this alive, after all.