Pete Buttigieg, who’s suddenly leaped into the national spotlight after his strong showing in Iowa and polls showing him neck-and-neck with Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire primary, caught some heat over the weekend for his position that possession of drugs should be decriminalized. Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Buttigieg was grilled by Chris Wallace about his stance.

Wallace pointed out that Buttigieg’s website says that all drugs would be decriminalized. Buttigieg acknowledged his stance but said drug possession could also be a misdemeanor, a class of offense usually not punished with prison time. He argued that jailing drug users “shows a profound failure in our country’s mental health and addiction treatment system.”

“The point is not the legal niceties,” Buttigieg said. “The point is that we have learned through 40 years of a failed war on drugs that criminalizing addiction does not work. Not only that, the incarceration does more harm than the offense that it’s intended to deal with.”

And yet what is Buttigieg’s preferred method of dealing with America’s 100-million gun owners? Turning them into criminals and launching a war on guns to replace the war on drugs. Buttigieg says criminalizing addiction doesn’t work, but for some reason he’s all into criminalizing the exercise of a fundamental right. Here’s a portion of the gun control measures Buttigieg is backing.

  • Institute universal background checks
  • Ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
  • Enact red flag laws (also known as extreme risk laws) that disarm at-risk individuals and allow friends and family to intervene when they observe warning signs
  • Hold the gun industry accountable by repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to end gun industry immunity
  • Establish a nationwide gun licensing system
  • Invest in evidence-based urban gun violence intervention programs proven to work

The gun licensing plan alone would be enough to turn millions of otherwise law-abiding gun owners into felons through the simple act of noncompliance. Only at the end does Buttigieg offer up support for “evidence-based urban gun violence intervention programs,” largely as an afterthought. Those are the programs that are dramatically reducing homicides and shootings when effectively put in place, but they’re barely mentioned by Buttigieg, who is much more interested in restricting the rights of legal gun owners than dealing with the street crime that plagues too many of our communities.

Though heroin and fentanyl have killed tens of thousands more Americans than evil individuals holding an AR-15 have, Buttigieg believes it should be legal for you buy heroin on the street, and a felony for you to purchase an AR-15 from a gun store. In Buttigieg’s world, it would be fine for you to possess meth, but if you kept ahold of your grandfather’s revolver without getting a federal gun license, you should go to prison.

By the way, while Buttigieg has said he wouldn’t borrow a page from Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke’s campaign and demand Americans hand over their banned guns and magazines, the rhetoric he uses suggests that sooner or later (and likely sooner) he would, in fact, come for your guns.

“I think the weapons of war can do no good in American neighborhoods,” Buttigieg, an Afghanistan War veteran, said on “New Day.” “I trained on weapons that are similar to these, and they have one purpose, which is to destroy as much as possible as quickly as possible. They have tactical uses in war zones. Since when are American cities and neighborhoods supposed to be war zones?”

If you really believe that AR-15’s are “weapons of war” that don’t belong in the hands of American citizens, then you’re not going to be satisfied with letting millions of Americans continue to possess them, even if you ban their sale going forward. No, Buttigieg’s issue with O’Rourke was that he was putting the prospect of a gun control deal in jeopardy, not that he was morally or ethically opposed to demanding Americans turn over their legally-possessed firearms.

No, under a Pete Buttigieg presidency you’d be able to possess a syringe full of fentanyl without fear of federal prosecution, but that 20-round magazine could put you behind bars for years. While Buttigieg might believe the war on drugs has been a failure, he seems intent on making the same mistakes when it comes to a war on our guns.