CNN’s Alisyn Camerota repeatedly invoked a National Rifle Association talking point to criticize Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s plan for a mandatory buyback of assault weapons, suggesting gun safety laws are toothless without “confiscation.”
During the October 15 Democratic primary debate hosted by CNN and The New York Times, moderator Anderson Cooper asked O’Rourke how he would enforce his plan. After his response, fellow candidate Pete Buttigieg said O’Rourke “made it clear” that he doesn’t know “how this is actually going to take weapons off the streets.”
The following morning on CNN’s New Day, Camerota interviewed O’Rourke to question whether a mandatory buyback is able to prevent mass shootings because gunmen “don’t follow the law, by definition.” Camerota also suggested that O’Rourke’s plan “sounds like confiscation,” which the CNN anchor pointed out “makes a lot of people on the right and gun owners nervous”:
Camerota’s line of questioning is ripped straight from the NRA, which has spent years fearmongering that any type of gun safety legislation is a “slippery-slope” toward confiscation. The pro-gun group has also long claimed that gun safety laws are useless because “criminals don’t follow the law,” despite the evidence that strong gun safety measures “demonstrably save lives by reducing criminal access to firearms.” According to The Trace, the problem “isn’t that criminals don’t follow laws, but rather that criminals aren’t dissuaded by weak laws” riddled with loopholes.
In reality, reducing the availability of assault weapons has a direct impact on the number and severity of mass shootings -- Australia saw a “steep decline in deadly shootings” following its 1996 mandatory buyback legislation. And in the United States from 1982 until 2011, “both state and federal bans on assault weapons resulted in decreased rates of mass shooting fatalities.”