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Gun Violence Prevention a Key Issue Issue During Night One of CNN Democratic Presidential Debate

July 31, 2019

Following a weekend of deadly shootings at community events, from a park in New York City’s Brownsville neighborhood to the historic garlic festival in Gilroy, California, day one of the second Democratic presidential debate on CNN once again featured gun violence prevention as a top tier issue. Here’s some of what presidential candidates said on stage in Detroit about tackling the gun violence epidemic in America during night one of the second Democratic presidential debate:

  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “Eighty, 90 percent of Republicans want universal background checks, not to mention the common-sense solutions like Red Flag laws that disarmed domestic abusers and flag mental health risks and an end to assault weapons, things like what I carried overseas in uniform, that have no business in American neighbors in peace time, let alone anywhere near a school. … I was a junior when the Columbine shooting happened. I was part of the first generation that saw routine school shootings. We have now produced the second school shooting generation in this country. We better not allow there to be a third.”
  • Governor Steve Bullock: “Like 40 percent of American households, I’m a gun- owner. I hunt. Like far too many people in America, I’ve been personally impacted by gun violence. Had an 11-year-old nephew, Jeremy, shot and killed on a playground. We need to start looking at this as a public health issue, not a political issue. I agree with Senator Klobuchar. It is the NRA.”
  • Former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper: “When I went to the – to the movie theater in Aurora in 2012, and saw that footage of what happened at that crime scene, I’ll never forget it. And we decided, you know, that we were going to go out and take on the NRA, and we passed as a purple state. We passed universal background checks. We limited magazine capacity. We did the basic work that for whatever reason doesn’t seem to be able to get done in Washington.”
  • Senator Amy Klobuchar: “I’ve been a leader on these issues and have the will to close to a boyfriend loophole. And I watched and wrote down when, nine times, [President Trump] said he wanted universal background checks. The next day, he goes and he meets with the NRA, and he folds. As your president, I will not fold. I will make sure that we get universal background checks passed, the assault weapon ban, that we do something about magazines… After Parkland, those students just didn’t march. They talked to their dads and their grandpas and the hunters in their family, and they said there must be a better way. Then we elected people in the House of Representatives. And guess what? It changed, and they passed universal background checks. And now that bill is sitting on Mitch McConnell’s doorstep because of the money and the power of the NRA. As president, I will take them on.”
  • Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke: “How else can we explain that we lose nearly 40,000 people in this country to gun violence, a number that no other country comes even close to, that we know what all the solutions are, and yet nothing has changed?”
  • Senator Bernie Sanders: “I have a D- minus voting record from the NRA. And as president I suspect it will be an F record. What I believe we have got to do is have the guts to finally take on the NRA. … I will do everything I can not only to take on the NRA, but to expand and create universal background checks, do away with the strawman provision, do away with the gun show loophole, and do away with the loopholes that now exist for gun manufacturers.”

See the full debate transcript from CNN here.

The 2020 presidential cycle has been notable for the number of candidates proudly embracing gun safety as an issue to run and win on.

To help track the latest news on gun policy, Everytown for Gun Safety has launched an interactive tracker: In Their Own Words, Where the 2020 Candidates Stand on Gun Safety.

Everytown previously released a list of 10 executive actions the next President can take to tackle gun safety. Everytown also previously released this video of 2020 presidential candidates speaking out about their support for gun safety while on the campaign trail.

Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund and Moms Demand Action announced the release of the 2020 Moms Demand Action Gun Sense Candidate questionnaire to all major 2020 presidential candidates. Questionnaires ask about where the candidates stand on the issues, how candidates are making gun safety a central part of their campaigns and how candidates will lead on gun safety if they win.

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