Why Gun Confiscation Really Wouldn't Work In The U.S.

Beto O’Rourke is all about gun confiscation. To make matters worse, most of the Democrats currently running for president seem to support him in this with a notable exception. Even that exception isn’t opposed to the idea of gun confiscation, just the idea that it’s a workable solution.


With that in mind, it’s probably a good idea to look at what gun confiscation would look like here in the United States.

Luckily, Stephen Gutowski already did that over at the Washington Examiner.

There are no official statistics on how many guns Americans own, but the Small Arms Survey is the most widely recognized estimate of civilian, police, and military gun ownership in the world. Its most recent estimate puts civilian-owned firearms in America at about 400 million. That’s far more than in any other country in the world. There are more guns here than there are people. Civilians own 100 times as many guns as the military. Americans own so many guns it amounts to three times all the world’s militaries combined.

Likewise, we don’t know exactly how many AR-15s and AK-47s there are, but the National Shooting Sports Foundation, the gun industry trade group, estimates that it is about 16 million. Beto has said he would base confiscation on the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019, introduced but going nowhere, which applies to many guns other than just AR-15s and AK-47s, so the number of guns affected would likely be much higher. If you stick to just the ARs and AKs Beto called out at the debate, the task seems somewhat less daunting than trying to seize 400 million guns from our 350 million citizens and upwards of 120 million gun owners. Those rifles are about 4% of the total number of guns owned in the U.S.

But it would be nearly impossibility to round up 16 million guns.

New Zealand is halfway through its gun confiscation effort, which is supported by nearly every politician in the country, and its government has seized under 20,000 firearms. That’s a compliance rate of just 10%, according to the New Zealand Herald. A similar compliance rate in the U.S. would leave more than 14 million ARs and AKs in circulation.


Gutowski also points out that Americans are potentially less likely to comply. American gun grabbers might someday wish they’d gotten so much as a 10 percent compliance rate. As Gutowski notes:

New Jersey’s recent ban on the possession of ammunition magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds is instructive. In April, New Jersey State Police told Ammoland.com that not a single magazine had been surrendered to them.

But what if we’re wrong? What if what happened in New Jersey and in New York regarding their assault weapon registration failure are the anomalies?

Well, again, Gutowski points out that even if you had 90 percent compliance, that would still leave an estimated 1.6 million AR-15s and similar weapons in the hands of private citizens. And that’s if you don’t count the number of people who will manufacture them for whatever reason despite the law. There’s literally nothing about these weapons that makes it impossible to replicate them in a well-equipped home machine shop. Someone’s going to do it and we all know it.

That means the dreaded door-to-door searches for AR-15s. It’s either that or just accept that there are almost two million or more of these weapons still in circulation despite the law, and if you’re willing to accept that, then why confiscate them in the first place?


None of this touches on the potential for a civil war sparking from any confiscation effort.

No, gun confiscation is nine kinds of stupid. Let’s hope it eventually dies on the vine.

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