AP Photo/Rick Scuteri
Michael Bloomberg is many things, but he’s not an idiot. After watching the campaigns of Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke, Eric Swalwell, and Kamala Harris crash and burn after calling for the ban and confiscation of nearly 18-million guns in the hands of private citizens, there was virtually no way the sugar daddy of the gun control movement and new presidential candidate was going to go full confiscation when laying out his gun control agenda.
That’s about the only proposal Bloomberg didn’t back in his unveiling of his campaign’s gun control plan, however. Speaking at a church in Aurora, Colorado not far from the 2012 theater shooting that claimed the lives of twelve people, he repeated the calls for bans on “assault weapons”, federal gun licensing laws, “universal background checks”, and raising the age to purchase a firearm from 18 to 21 that we’ve already heard from candidates like Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Pete Buttigieg, and even offered up a few new restrictions on the Second Amendment.
During his speech, Bloomberg first talked up his years of bankrolling gun control groups before delving into his plans to infringe on the rights of American gun owners. From Politico:
Bloomberg calls for a background check system that entails permits for all new gun buyers, police notification when owners have been prohibited from holding firearms and a crackdown on unlicensed sellers at gun shows or online, according to campaign officials. As mayor in 2009, Bloomberg oversaw a sting operation at gun shows around the country and turned over illegally-bought firearms to federal authorities.
His team said his proposed law would carve out exceptions for law enforcement officials, hunting and self-defense, and noted 21 states and Washington, D.C. already have similar measures in place.
Bloomberg is also calling for a “red flag screening” to block people who pose a danger from getting permitted to own a firearm. Issuers would have to review histories of domestic violence and other risks.
And he demands that guns not be sold before background checks are complete, a policy his team said could have prevented 15,000 sales to people prohibited from owning a gun over five years. The “Charleston loophole,” which Democrats have already tried to end, reportedly enabled shooter Dylann Roof to buy a gun in 2015 and kill nine people in a Charleston, S.C., church.
As I said on Wednesday, when word broke that Bloomberg would be releasing his gun control platform, he was going to try to portray himself as a moderate, not the anti-gun extremist that he is.
As for the specifics of Bloomberg’s plan, I wouldn’t actually expect him to call for a Beto-style gun ban and compensated confiscation plan, though I do believe that Bloomberg wants that and much more. The calls for gun confiscation didn’t help O’Rourke, or Swalwell, or Kamala Harris, and Bloomberg is trying to present himself as a moderate, so I think it’s more likely that he announces a ban and a voluntary “buyback” of some kind.
It’s actually going to be hard for Bloomberg to stand out from other candidates in terms of his actual policies. After all, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Pete Buttigieg are supporting gun licensing and registration schemes, bans on rifles and magazines, confiscatory tax rates for gun and ammunition sales, and a host of other infringements on the rights of Americans to keep and bear arms. How does Bloomberg stand out? Of course he can talk about the money and time he’s spent attacking the Second Amendment rights of American citizens, but in terms of actual policies I’m curious to see if he offers up anything new.
Now we know the answer: No, there wasn’t much that was new in Bloomberg’s proposals. His agenda is exactly what I thought it would be; mostly a rehash of the same proposals offered by other candidates who’ve poll tested various gun control proposals and adopted the ones that are the most popular in focus groups and polling. In addition to the proposals mentioned above, his campaign’s gun control platform repeats other candidates’ calls for a host of other restrictions on the right to keep and bear arms.
- Repeal of the Protection of Lawful Commerce In Arms Act
- a “lost or stolen” law that requires gun owners to report all firearms that are lost or stolen within 72 hours of the discovery of the theft or else face federal charges
- Require a 48-hour waiting period for all firearms transfers
- A federal “safe storage” law
- A federal “red flag” law
In addition to those items you might have seen before, there are at least a couple of proposals I haven’t seen from other candidates. One would bar firearm possession in K-12 schools, colleges, and universities with the exception of law enforcement. This would not only ban the carrying of firearms by college students and professors who are concealed carry holders, but would bar districts from adopting policies that train and arm school staff for the safety of students.
Another new twist from Bloomberg is a proposed “temporary ban” on gun possession for those convicted of violent misdemeanors, which further lowers the legal standard by which individuals can lose their right to keep and bear arms.
Bloomberg is also proposing “extreme risk screening before guns are purchased so that issuers would be equipped to deny licenses to troubled people who pose a danger to themselves or others”, which sounds to me like in addition to the federal gun license that he’s proposing, Bloomberg wants some sort of mental health screening or evaluation before the purchase of every firearm.
Of course Bloomberg said nothing about how his laws would be enforced, but it’s clear that there’s no way to do so without infringing on the legal rights of Americans to possess and carry firearms.
Even with the few new twists on gun control laws that Bloomberg offered up today, what makes him stand out from other candidates on gun control isn’t his policy positions but the time and money he’s invested in targeting the Second Amendment rights of Americans. It’s clear based on his passion for restricting the rights of his fellow Americans that there’s nothing “moderate” about his views on gun ownership.
Do I believe Michael Bloomberg would sign a gun ban and “compensated confiscation” plan if it got to his desk as president? Absolutely, even if he’s not willing to say it publicly. Heck, he might offer to pay for the compensated confiscation out of his own pocket if he’s in the White House.
Even without a compensated confiscation program, however, Michael Bloomberg’s plan would be a disaster if implemented. By targeting legal gun owners as opposed to violent criminals, Bloomberg’s made clear that his real agenda is turning a right into a privilege, and that should concern every American, not just gun owners.