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Biden Gun-Control Plan Would Ban ‘Assault Weapon’ Sales but Not Force ’Buybacks’

Joe Biden speaks with supporters in Marshalltown, Iowa, July 4, 2019. (Gage Skidmore)

Joe Biden’s campaign released an eleven-page comprehensive gun-control plan on Wednesday morning, in which the former vice president proposes the reintroduction of an assault-weapons ban but offers only a voluntary buyback for current owners.

Biden’s plan also includes a universal background check for gun purchases — except for gifts between close family members — and $900 million in federal funding over eight years for anti-gun-violence programs in U.S. inner cities.

The voluntary government-purchasing program distances the former vice president from other Democratic presidential candidates, including former congressman Beto O’Rourke, whose viral “hell yes, we’re going to take your AR-15,” comment in the third Democratic debate sparked controversy over the prospect of gun confiscation.

President Trump took aim at O’Rourke in a tweet after the debate, saying “Dummy Beto made it much harder to make a deal,” and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said in a conference call that “I don’t know of any other Democrat who agrees with Beto O’Rourke.” But fellow candidates Kamala Harris and Cory Booker have also expressed support for a mandatory buyback, with Booker telling Bloomberg that foreign countries have been successful in taking assault weapons “off the streets.”

Biden’s proposal toes the line, as it lays out a ban of the manufacturing and selling of military-style assault weapons, but allows current assault-weapon owners the choice between selling to the government or registering the gun under the National Firearms Act.

The Act, passed in 1934, requires individuals who own machine guns, silencers, and short-barreled rifles to undergo a background check and register those weapons with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. Currently, semiautomatic weapons do not fall under the law’s jurisdiction.

On Wednesday, Biden is expected to attend a gun-control-advocacy forum in Las Vegas, hosted by Gabby Giffords and March for Our Lives, where he will unveil his gun-control agenda.

A Biden staffer told Axios on Wednesday that despite a Republican-controlled Senate, “You have in the vice president’s record two examples of him succeeding in getting legislation done and defeating the NRA before.”

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