2020 Contender Rep. Eric Swalwell Proposes Jailing Americans Who Don't Surrender Their 'Assault Weapons'

Brittany M. Hughes | April 16, 2019

California Democratic Rep. Eric Swalwell told CNN’s Jake Tapper this week he believes we should jail Americans who refuse to give up their so-called “assault weapons,” such as the AR-15, should Congress adopt his version of a national “assault weapons ban.”

In the interview, Swalwell, who's officially announced he'll be seeking the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, admitted his proposal to curb gun violence would include jailing those who don’t voluntarily surrender certain guns or keep them locked away at a firing range.

 “You wrote last year, ‘We should ban possession of military style assault weapons. We should buy back such weapons by all who choose to abide by the law, and should criminally prosecute any who choose to defy it by keeping their weapons,’” Tapper began. ”Criminal prosecution for keeping assault weapons, what’s the punishment for people who don’t hand in their guns? Do they go to jail?”

Well, Jake, they would, but I also offer an alternative, which would be to keep them at a hunting club or a shooting range. And the reason I’ve propose this, is because these weapons are so devastating,” Swalwell replied, without actually defining what he means by “military style assault weapons.” 

“I’ve seen this as a prosecutor in the cases I’ve prosecuted, I’ve seen these in the school shootings from Sandy Hook to Parkland…It’s not just the violence they’ve caused. It’s the fear, the immeasurable fear our children live in, because they’re still on our streets. I want to get rid of that fear.”

When Tapper pointed out that the vast majority of gun violence stems from handguns rather than sporting rifles like the AR-15, Swalwell hedged, saying he’s fine with people keeping their “pistols” and “long rifles" - just not whatever he's subjectively dubbed an "assault weapon."

“You know, keep your pistols, keep your long rifles, keep your shotguns, I want the most dangerous weapons, the weapons of war, out of the hands of the most dangerous people,” he said.