Washington, D.C., June 26, 2019 — Following the first night of the first 2020 Democratic presidential debates, Brady hailed the candidates’ focus on gun safety, an issue proven to be a top priority for voters in this election cycle. The organization wrote to the debate moderators last week, asking them to prioritize gun reform in a way that reflects the concern of Americans of all political affiliations and throughout the country.

Brady President Kris Brown stated,

“The American public has made clear over the past few years that they are tired of waiting for gun reform, that they’re tired of thoughts and prayers, that they’re tired of 100 people being shot and killed in our country every day. And tonight, the candidates on the debate stage made equally clear that they are ready to take action. We were thrilled to see this issue take center stage tonight, and we look forward to working with any candidate on either side of the aisle who wants to move forward on real solutions that will end America’s gun violence epidemic and save lives.”

Leading up to the debate, Brady sent an open letter to the moderators of the debates asking them to elevate gun reform as a top issue. During a ten minute segment during tonight’s debate, candidates addressed the issue of guns in America, touching on school shootings and student activism, weapons of war, and gun violence as a public health epidemic. Notable moments included:

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren noted that gun violence is a “national health emergency,” called for sensible changes like universal background checks and banning weapons of war, and doubled down on gun violence research and addressing gun trafficking in the country “whether it’s politically popular or not.”
  • Sen. Cory Booker addressed the gunshots heard in his own neighborhood, noting that seven people in his own community were shot last week, and called for “bold actions and a bold agenda” on gun reform including a gun licensing program.
  • Sec. Julián Castro made clear that we don’t have to accept our children living in fear from school shootings, and praised the efforts of grassroots student activists across the country.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan added a call for increased mental health services in schools.
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke cited his experience working with survivors of last year’s Santa Fe school shooting, made clear that weapons of war belong on the battlefield and not in our communities, and noted that Americans from all walks of life, including gun owners, support common-sense reforms.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar praised the movement sparked by the students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, noting that the proposals under discussion would be entirely consistent with the activities of her gun-owning family.

Last year, voters made clear that gun reform was a driving factor in their midterm votes, with Democratic voters ranking the issue as high as second, trailing only health care, and fear of school shootings was the number one issue driving turnout among the record number of young voters. That momentum has carried over to 2019 - a recent CBS News/YouGov battleground tracker poll found that gun policy was the third most important issue Democratic voters want to hear the candidates talk about, trailing only health care and jobs/economy, and that same poll found that 62 percent of Democrats “must hear” a candidates’ gun reform policies before voting for them.

In a primary notable for the in-depth policies being presented, candidates have made gun reform a clear priority in their campaigns. Notable proposals and actions taken by participants in tonight’s debate include:

  • Mayor Bill de Blasio has not announced a formal plan, but has historically supported expanded background checks and a ban on assault weapons.
  • Sen. Cory Booker unveiled one of the most comprehensive and far-reaching gun violence prevention plans of any candidate, highlighted by a proposed federal licensing program. He has also announced a plan to prevent firearm suicides, including requiring safe storage of guns in the home.
  • Sec. Julián Castro released an education plan that includes steps to keep students safe from shootings, including opposition to arming teachers.
  • Rep. John Delaney cites the “large, bipartisan majorities” that support common-sense gun reforms such as the ones in his policy plan, including passing extreme risk laws and banning assault weapons and bump stocks.
  • Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has not announced a policy plan, but has in the past supported gun safety policies such as expanded background checks.
  • Gov. Jay Inslee has long championed gun violence prevention policies throughout his career, even losing his congressional seat in 1994 partly due to his support of a federal assault weapon ban.
  • Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced more than 100 executive actions she would take in her first 100 days in office, including a number of gun reform proposals such as ATF inspections of gun dealers and strengthening law enforcement efforts to crack down on gun manufacturers and sellers that violate the law.
  • Rep. Beto O’Rourke published an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle last month laying out his gun reform proposals, including implementing universal background checks, closing the “boyfriend loophole” that allows abusive dating partners to obtain firearms, and funding federal research into gun violence.
  • Rep. Tim Ryan has openly discussed his former membership in the NRA, and how he left the organization due to their refusal to discuss common-sense reforms.
  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren recently highlighted the importance of federally funded research into gun violence as a public health epidemic, and penned an open letter last year urging major gun company shareholders to use their influence and push for reforms. She recently told The Trace that she would use every tool available as President, including executive actions, to address gun violence.

Brady has long prioritized a comprehensive approach to preventing the epidemic of gun violence, a strategy now being adopted by a growing number of elected officials and candidates. As they did in 2018, the organization will continue to consult with all electoral candidates in an effort to deliver a federal government committed to implementing policies to end gun violence in America.

Brady has one powerful mission — to unite all Americans against gun violence. We work across Congress, the courts, and our communities with over 90 grassroots chapters, bringing together young and old, red and blue, and every shade of color to find common ground in common sense. In the spirit of our namesakes Jim and Sarah Brady, we have fought for over 45 years to take action, not sides, and we will not stop until this epidemic ends. It’s in our hands.


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