Vice President Harris and multiple top aides to President Biden previously said they support mandatory gun buybacks, which would force Americans to surrender certain types of firearms in exchange for monetary compensation.
Among those who have expressed support for that policy are press secretary Jen Psaki, Deputy Chief of Staff Jennifer O’Malley Dillon and Cedric Richmond, a senior adviser to Biden and the director of the Office of Public Engagement. Those comments were made before they worked for Biden.
Mandatory gun buybacks, which essentially amount to gun confiscation, are different from what Biden himself has said he supports. The president, during the campaign and currently on his website, backs giving Americans the option to have the government buy back guns commonly known as assault weapons, or to register them under the restrictive National Firearms Act.
“That’s something I would not rule out. These are weapons of mass destruction,” Richmond said on CNN in 2019 when asked about mandatory buybacks. Richmond was still a member of the House of Representatives at the time.
“So if it is a buyback, then I’m all for it. If it’s a mandatory buyback, I think then you may run into some complications, but the thought of it does not offend me, and it sounds like something I could support,” he added.
“I think it’s a good idea,” Harris said when asked a similar question on mandatory buybacks, according to Bloomberg.
During the presidential campaign, many Democrats were excited about comments from former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, D-Texas, when he said he would happily take Americans’ AR-15s.
“Hell yes, we are going to take your AR-15, AK-47,” O’Rourke said at a Democratic presidential debate.
“Americans who own AR-15s and AK-47s will have to sell their assault weapons,” he also said on the campaign trail.
Psaki on the night of the debate when O’Rourke made his “Hell yes” pledge excitedly supported the then-candidate’s mission to “take guns.”
“Thank you @BetoORourke take guns,” she said in a tweet. “Please. No one needs an assault weapon. This is a crisis.”
O’Malley Dillon worked for O’Rourke at the time and she touted mandatory gun buybacks as well.
“We are actually the only campaign with a plan…that supports mandatory buybacks of weapons of war,” she said in a YouTube video.
“An assault weapon ban is very important and we need to have it. But that only takes weapons of war off the streets in the future. It does nothing for weapons of war that are currently out there and I think there’s 15 or 16 million,” O’Malley Dillon added.
The comments do not necessarily represent the position of the Biden administration, especially as the now-top aides made the comments before they were associated with the president. But it is notable that so many in high levels of the Biden administration have called for gun confiscation in the past.
Democrats have re-upped their calls for gun control in the wake of a shooting in Colorado this week that killed 10 people in a grocery store.
The White House confirmed that Biden’s stance supporting voluntary gun buybacks — or else forcing owners to register under the National Firearms Act — has not changed. But it did not address questions from Fox News asking whether mandatory gun buybacks are on the table for the president or if Biden would veto any bill that includes such a program no matter what else is in the bill.
The National Rifle Association (NRA), the top gun rights advocacy group in the U.S., previously assailed Biden and Harris for allegedly wanting to “confiscate” guns and said Biden “would leave Americans defenseless and at the mercy of criminals.” The group on Tuesday warned some “have already rushed to politicize” the “horrific” shooting in Colorado.
“The men and women of the NRA are saddened by this tragic and senseless crime. It is our longstanding rule to wait for all the facts to be known before making any policy statements,” the group said in a statement. “Regrettably, gun control advocates have already rushed to politicize this horrific situation – even as most of the salient facts remain unknown. We would like to express our gratitude to law enforcement, first responders, and local officials for their courageous efforts. We support their pursuit of the facts involved.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he plans to bring House-passed gun bills to the Senate floor in the wake of the Colorado shooting, and Harris on CBS Wednesday called for legislation on guns.
Harris said Biden isn’t “excluding” executive action on limiting access to firearms, adding that in order to take “lasting” action Democrats will have to pass a bill. Biden has also called for the Senate to pass the House gun control bills.
The House bills notably do not include a ban on “assault weapons,” let alone mandatory gun buybacks.
Some congressional Republicans have expressed openness to negotiating with Democrats on some form of a gun bill. But it is highly unlikely that a mandatory buyback would clear the 60-vote Senate filibuster hurdle required to get to a final vote, and it is not clear how much common ground there is to be had between Democrats and Republicans on this issue.
Many Democrats have said they support eliminating the legislative filibuster so that they can pass major legislation without GOP support. But it’s unclear they could get their entire caucus on board with such a gambit, especially as Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., have said they want to leave the filibuster in place.
Fox News’ Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.