Booker hits Buttigieg over gun buyback comment: NRA doesn't 'need our help'

Booker hits Buttigieg over gun buyback comment: NRA doesn't 'need our help'
© Greg Nash

Sen. Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerDNC announces new criteria for New Hampshire debate The Hill's Campaign Report: Sanders, Warren feud rattles Democrats The Hill's Morning Report — President Trump on trial MORE (D-N.J.) on Monday criticized fellow Democratic presidential candidate Pete ButtigiegPeter (Pete) Paul ButtigiegSanders to headline Iowa event amid impeachment trial Hill.TV's Krystal Ball on Sanders-Warren feud: 'Don't play to the pundits, play to voters' Poll: Sanders holds 5-point lead over Buttigieg in New Hampshire MORE after the South Bend, Ind., mayor said that gun buybacks amounted to "confiscation" of people's firearms.

"Calling buyback programs 'confiscation' is doing the NRA's work for them, @PeteButtigieg—and they don't need our help," Booker tweeted, referring to the National Rifle Association.

"I just don't think we should wait to have a fight over confiscation when we can win on background checks and assault weapons ban and red flag laws right now," Buttigieg said of buybacks in an appearance on the Snapchat show "Good Luck America."

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"My focus right now is getting something done," he added. 

The Buttigieg campaign pointed The Hill to the mayor's plan for addressing gun violence when asked for comment. In it, he endorses universal background checks, "red flag" laws, and banning the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Buttigieg has previously expressed support for focusing on other measures when asked about gun buybacks by a CBS News reporter.

"I continue to believe that our focus right now should be universal background checks, red flag laws and a ban on the sale of assault weapons," he said. "Because we can get this done now." 

Fellow 2020 Democratic hopeful former Rep. Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeBiden calls for revoking key online legal protection Trump mocks Booker over suspended presidential campaign Julián Castro endorses Warren in 2020 race MORE (Texas), who has been a vocal supporter of mandatory buybacks since a mass shooting rocked his hometown of El Paso, has also previously criticized Buttigieg for his reluctance to support the measure. 

He said that Democrats who haven't supported the program "maybe want to get to the right place,” but are afraid.

Asked in a CNN interview last month whether he was in favor of "gun confiscation" O'Rourke said, "Yes, when it comes to AR-15s and AK-47s."

Buttigieg, Booker and O'Rourke are all expected to take the debate stage alongside nine others on Tuesday night.

— This report was updated at 2:03 p.m.