Washington, D.C., June 27, 2019 — As the first round of Democratic primary debates in the 2020 election concludes, it is clear that candidates are placing gun safety front and center as never before. Brady, which was referenced and praised by numerous candidates tonight, applauded this increased focus on gun violence prevention, an issue that voters have called one of the most important facing our country today. Leading up to the debates, polling from Morning Consult showed that 62 percent of Democratic voters wanted to hear the candidates discuss gun policy, ranking second to climate change by only one percentage point.
Brady President Kris Brown stated,
“Over the past two nights, we’ve seen a focus on gun reform from presidential candidates like never before. Gone are the days when members of both parties danced around the issue of preventing gun violence; now, we have multiple candidates putting gun safety front and center where it belongs. While our newly elected House has moved quickly and decisively, our current administration and Senate need to take note and realize that the cost of inaction is literally life or death. Americans are demanding action, and if they continue to fail to take action on this important issue, voters will have a very clear choice come November 2020.”
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 five minute segment during tonight’s debate, candidates addressed the issue of guns in America, with notable moments including:
- Rep. Eric Swalwell, praising the effort of Brady and other gun violence prevention groups, discussed taking “the most dangerous weapons from the most dangerous people,” calling for a ban and buyback of assault weapons.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders stated that there is a “gun crisis” in America, calling for comprehensive, common-sense legislation.
- Sen. Kamala Harris vowing to take executive action on gun reform if Congress does not pass legislation in the first 100 days of her administration.
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg referenced his military service, saying that having trained with weapons of war, they have no place on America’s streets.
- Vice President Joe Biden referenced his efforts to pass the Brady Bill and beat the corporate gun lobby, and supported increased use of technology to develop smart guns.
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, in order of appearance on stage, include:
- Sen. Michael Bennet has made clear that people should not have access to weapons commonly used in mass shootings such as Sandy Hook and Las Vegas.
- Vice President Joe Biden has yet to introduce a gun violence prevention proposal, but prominently included an assault weapon ban as part of his education plan. He previously led a gun safety task force during his time as Vice President, recommending a series of policy changes following the Sandy Hook shooting.
- Mayor Pete Buttigieg unveiled a number of gun reform proposals as part of his “Security” platform, including raising the standard of gun ownership, holding the gun industry accountable, and establishing a national gun licensing system.
- Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has openly discussed her movement on the issue of gun violence, and strongly supports common-sense solutions including expanding background checks, banning assault weapons, and stopping gun trafficking.
- Sen. Kamala Harris has announced a series of actions she would take in the first 100 days of her administration should Congress fail to address gun violence. Proposed executive actions include revoking licenses of gun manufacturers that break the law, repealing the corporate gun manufacturer immunity shield, and banning the importation of AR-15-style assault weapons.
- Gov. John Hickenlooper, having taken bold action in Colorado following the Aurora shooting in 2012, has introduced a similarly ambitious proposal to prevent gun violence. His plan includes a national licensing system, funding community-based programs to prevent everyday gun violence, and folding the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives into the FBI.
- Sen. Bernie Sanders has vowed to “move aggressively to end the epidemic of gun violence in this country,” introducing a policy plan to crack down on straw purchases and combat the influence of the corporate gun lobby.
- Rep. Eric Swalwell, from the first moments of his campaign, has declared that gun safety is the driving force behind his candidacy. He has accordingly introduced a plan notable for its breadth and depth, highlighted by a proposed assault weapon buyback program and including efforts to invest in local neighborhoods, address suicides by firearm, protect victims of domestic violence, and regulate gun manufacturers.
- Marianne Williamson has made clear that the Second Amendment does not prevent common-sense gun reform policies. Her proposal would, in addition to expanding background checks and banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, enforce child safety rules and implement a nationwide licensing system.
- Andrew Yang has introduced a wide-ranging plan to prevent gun violence, including investing in smart gun technology, implementing a federal buy-back program, and providing enhanced mental health resources.
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 it 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.