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O'Rourke's Plan to 'Take Your AR-15' Raises Questions

Americans own an estimated 16 million AR-15s and AK-47s
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2019 1:52 PM CDT
In this Sept. 7, 2019 file photo, Democratic presidential candidate former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, speaks during the New Hampshire state Democratic Party convention, in Manchester, NH.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

(Newser) – Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke's recent vow to take away people's AR-15 and AK-47 rifles raised one big question: How is it possible to round up the millions of such guns that exist in the United States? The number of AR-15 and AK-47s in the US is estimated at a staggering 16 million, creating logistical challenges to take them out of circulation. Many gun owners are also unwilling to turn over the weapons, and if the government offered to buy them all back at face value, the price tag could easily run into the billions of dollars. O'Rourke's pointed declaration during a recent debate—"Hell yes, we're gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47"—stoked longstanding fears among gun owners that Democrats are less interested in safety or finding a middle ground, the AP reports.

O'Rourke's remarks came in the wake of several high-profile shootings, including two in his home state of Texas that involved AR- or AK-style guns. The prospect of significant gun measures has faded in recent weeks under the GOP-controlled Senate and President Trump, and Democratic candidates have offered a range of proposals for what they would do on guns if elected president. O'Rourke believes that most people would follow the law and turn their weapons in under his proposal for a mandatory buyback program and assault weapons ban. He also wants to outlaw high-capacity magazines and expand background checks. There is some precedent in Trump's bump-stock ban, which requires owners to turn them in to be destroyed.

(Read more AR-15 rifle stories.)

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