During an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday, former Vice President Joe Biden said that he intends to ban assault weapons if elected president, and he would accompany it with a national gun buyback program to eliminate as many existing weapons as possible from circulation.
"I was able to get one passed," said Biden, citing the 1994 assault weapons ban that, while it was never conclusively linked to a drop in crime, was marked by a dramatic reduction in mass shooting deaths. "Does anybody think it made any sense that someone is able to walk into a gun store, buy an assault weapon that has multiple rounds or buy an assault weapon that has 100 rounds ... do you want more of them on the street? Do we want to do that?"
"So to gun owners out there who say well, a Biden administration means they're going to come for my guns..." said Cooper.
"Bingo, you're right if you have an assault weapon," said Biden. "The fact of the matter is they should be illegal, period. Look, the Second Amendment doesn't say you can't restrict the kinds of weapons people can own. You can't buy a bazooka. You can't have a flamethrower. The guys who make these arguments are the people who say, 'the tree of liberty is watered with the blood of patriots, we need protection against the government.' We need an F-15 for that. You need something well beyond whether or not you have an assault weapon."
Asked how he'll handle the millions of assault weapons people already own, Biden acknowledged it was a political and logistical impossibility to confiscate them — and said he would use other means. "I would institute a national buyback program and move in the direction of making sure that that in fact was what we tried to do, get them off the street," said Biden. "That's not walking into their home, walking through their door and going through the gun cabinets ... Right now there is no legal way to deny them the right if they legally purchased them but we can in fact make a major effort to get them off the street and out of the possession of people."
Biden added that his plan would require congressional action.
"I'm the guy that pushed the Brady bill through the United States Congress, when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, on background checks," said Biden. You can, in fact do those kinds of things, but cannot as a matter of executive order say, this is what we're going to do relative to this particular weapon."