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Politics & Policy

Buttigieg: Assault-Rifle Ban ‘Should Be On the Table’

Democratic 2020 presidential candidate and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg campaigns at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, N.H., April 6, 2019. (Mary Schwalm/Reuters)

South Bend, Ind. mayor and Democratic 2020 presidential contender Pete Buttigieg expressed support Wednesday for a federal ban on what he called “weapons of war.”

“As somebody who is very familiar from my military training with weapons of war, somebody who carried a rifle and a pistol around a foreign land on order of the president, [I think] there are some weapons that just don’t belong in our neighborhoods in peace time in America,” he said during a campaign rally in Des Moines, Iowa. “We’ve already decided that this is within the Second Amendment because we’ve decided that somewhere in between a slingshot and a nuclear weapon, we can draw a line. And that’s not unconstitutional, it’s common sense.”

“And that’s why I think assault rifles need to be on the table too,” he concluded, referring to a potential assault-weapon ban.

The 37-year-old mayor has previously compared the popular semi-automatic rifles available to civilians with the rifle he carried overseas.

Buttigieg’s framing of the gun-control issue, which conflates the semi-automatic rifles available to civilians with the fully automatic rifles distributed to service-members, echoes Representative Eric Swalwell’s call for a federal ban on so-called “weapons of war,” which he believes is necessary to reduce mass shootings.

“You know, keep your pistols, keep your long rifles, keep your shotguns,” Swalwell said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union days after announcing his entry into the Democratic primary. “I want the most dangerous weapons, these weapons of war, out of the hands of the most dangerous people.”

Since reclaiming a majority in the House in January, Democrats have focused on advancing a federal assault-weapon ban, citing the recent increase in mass shootings to justify the move. Republican critics, meanwhile, have argued that the move is politically motivated rather than pragmatic, since handguns are used in homicides at 19 times the rate of rifles, according to FBI crime statistics.

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