His proposal calls for a voluntary buyback program of assault weapons, stopping short of candidates and advocates who are calling for a mandatory gun buyback.
His campaign would not specify how much he would propose the government offer for the military-style guns, or how many people they anticipate would voluntarily give up their firearms. Under Biden’s proposal, a gun owner would either have to sell the weapon to the government or register it.
Biden also proposes requiring new guns to include biometric technology that enables a gun to be used only by those authorized to do so, an idea he talks about frequently on the campaign trail.
“Why is it any violation of the First Amendment at all to say, from this moment on, every weapon we sold, every gun we sold in America, has to have your biometric marker on it?” Biden told reporters in August. “You can still buy a gun if you pass a background check. You go out there and you can own it, you can use it.”
Biden’s plan comes as the campaign attempts to shift focus to guns this week — as it focused onhealth care last week — amid a rapidly shifting political dynamic that has altered the presidential campaign. Biden has become a central character in the impeachment inquiry that resulted from President Trump’s decision to ask the Ukrainian president to investigate unsubstantiated allegations about Biden and his son Hunter.
The former vice president is slated to attend a forum Wednesday in Las Vegas that is hosted by the gun control advocacy groups Giffords and March for Our Lives.
March for Our Lives, a group founded by student activists after a shooting last year at a Florida high school left 17 dead, has come out with an ambitious and sweeping gun plan, attempting to shape the presidential debate. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas) is the only presidential candidate to fully embrace the plan, which includes a mandatory buyback, and he has called on others to join him.
Biden does not fully endorse the March for Our Lives plan, but he does adopt some of its proposals. He would, for example, propose legislation to prohibit online sales of firearms, ammunition, and gun parts.
Biden has frequently touted his willingness to take on the National Rifle Association, pointing to his efforts in 1993 in passing a law establishing the background check system, and in 1994 in passing a 10-year ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Biden also spearheaded the Obama administration’s efforts to reduce gun violence after the Sandy Hook school shooting in 2012. But those efforts ended in legislative defeat in the Senate, and Obama instead pursued two dozen executive actions, which Trump has been able to rescind.
When asked during a CNN interview this summer what he would say to gun owners who think he’s coming for their guns, Biden said, “Bingo! You’re right, if you have an assault weapon.” He clarified that while banning future sales would be possible, the constitution may restrict the government’s ability to require people to give up guns they already own.
Gun violence has become a potent issue during the 2020 presidential campaign, with advocacy groups attending events and pressing candidates to adopt more far-reaching proposals.
Many Democrats have embraced gun control with greater urgency than in any election in recent memory, responding to a more liberal activist base and to the spate of mass shootings that have continued over the past several months.
Biden’s plan says that he would enact legislation giving states and local government grants to require individuals to obtain a license before purchasing a gun — although he has in the past been skeptical of the concept.
“Gun licensing will not change whether or not people buy what weapons — what kinds of weapons they can buy, where they can use them, how they can store them,” Biden said in June.
He would also give states funds to enact red flag laws, which allows family members and law enforcement to restrict access to guns to those deemed a risk. He would also propose legislation prohibiting anyone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing a gun. To restrict the ability to quickly stockpile weapons, Biden would restrict the number of firearms an individual may purchase to one per month.
Biden also favors rescinding a law that helps protect gun manufacturers from being held civilly liable for their products.