ByCATHERINE THOMPSON PublishedOCTOBER 26, 2015, 6:00 AM
Gun owners feared President Barack Obama would use the "Jade Helm 15" military training exercise as cover for confiscating Americans' firearms and implementing martial law this summer. The exercise ended in September to little fanfare and without any guns having been confiscated.
But the underlying fear that Obama—and, now, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton—plans to confiscate Americans' guns hasn't gone away with the change in seasons. It's merely morphed and burst out into the mainstream after yet another mass shooting earlier this month at a community college in Oregon.
The current wave of speculation began when Clinton said the U.S. should consider a national gun buyback program like those implemented in Australia while responding to a question at an Oct. 16 town hall event in New Hampshire.
"The Australian government, as part of trying to clamp down on the availability of automatic weapons, offered a good price for buying hundreds of thousands of guns. Then they basically clamped down going forward in terms of having more of a background check approach, more of a permitting approach," she said. "But they believed, and I think the evidence supports them, by offering to buy back those guns they were able to curtail the supply and to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future."
Clinton noted that several U.S. communities had implemented their own gun buy back programs. She said it was worth exploring whether one could be arranged at the national level and cited the example of President Barack Obama's "cash for clunkers" program, which gave consumers a rebate to trade in old cars for more fuel-efficient vehicles.
“So think that’s worth considering," she said. "I do not know enough detail to tell you how we would do it, or how would it work, but certainly the Australian example is worth looking at."
Clinton also mocked the National Rifle Association as trying to "scare responsible folks into thinking a black helicopter is going to land in the front yard and somebody's going to show up and take your guns." The gun rights group immediately pounced on her comments.
"This validates what the NRA has said all along," Chris Cox, the executive director of the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action, said in a statement. "The real goal of gun control supporters is gun confiscation. Hillary Clinton, echoing President Obama's recent remarks on the same issue, made that very clear.”
An article posted on the website for the NRA's Institute for Legislative Action also disputed Clinton's comparison of a national gun buyback program to the "cash for clunkers" initiative. It argued that Australian gun owners never had a "choice" to turn over their guns for money, but were compelled gun to do so or else have their weapons forcibly confiscated and potentially face prison time.
"If you own a gun now, take heed," the post read. "President Obama and now Hillary Clinton finally made clear what they’re really after – national gun confiscation."
Conservative pundits amplified the NRA fear-mongering about a "mandatory" U.S. gun buyback program on Twitter:
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