Madame Feinstein — she of the brilliant “assault weapons” ban — has had another great idea this week. Why doesn’t the United States, like Australia, buy back these prohibited weapons for something like $500 a gun, and then outlaw them?
There are more than a few problems with Senator Feinstein’s thought. First and foremost, the Australians have nothing like our Bill of Rights, with its Second Amendment and the history behind it. But beyond the theoretical problems and the Supreme Court fight that would entail, a country that is on the verge of its own Greek-style fiscal crisis cannot possibly afford a buyback of this magnitude. Looking at the numbers, Australia’s buyback program, consisting of semiautomatic guns, automatic guns and shotguns, cost their government $500 million in 1997. Using a 1% levy on income taxes, the government paid approximately $500 per gun.
How would this look in the United States? According to Gallup’s most recent poll regarding gun ownership, 47% of 315 million Americans own guns, which means 148,050,000 Americans admit to owning guns. In Australia, one in four guns fell into the “banned” category, so using very simplified numbers, we’ll assume each American admitting they own a gun only owns one. Continuing with our simplified numbers, we’ll use the Aussie numbers of one in four being banned, so 37,012,500 would need to be bought back by the government. Even if the government only offers $500 per gun (which would be woefully under fair market value for many of these weapons), it would cost taxpayers $18,506,250,000. Keep in mind that the national debt is around $16 trillion. How are we supposed to pay for this, when the Senate can’t even pass a budget?
The full version of this column is now only available in Doug Giles’ book, “Sandy Hook Massacre: When Seconds Count, The Police Are Minutes Away”.