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Gun Violence Prevention Once Again Top-Tier Issue During Second Night of Democratic Debates

June 28, 2019

NEW YORK — Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, part of Everytown, released the below statements after the second night of Democratic presidential debates again featured gun violence prevention as a top-tier issue.

“As the dust settles on the debates, this much is clear: Gun safety is one of the defining issues of the 2020 campaign,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Candidate after candidate is stepping up and promising to take action on one of America’s most urgent public health emergencies.”

“It’s clear from the first two Democratic presidential debates that candidates recognize you can’t win the White House without running on gun safety,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “Moms Demand Action volunteers will be there every step of the way to make sure the issue of gun safety stays front and center between now and 2020 because American lives are on the line.”

Some of the debate’s notable exchanges were in response to moderator questions about gun violence prevention. Here’s some of what the candidates said about tackling the gun violence epidemic in America:

  • Vice President Joe Biden: “I’m the only person that has beaten the NRA nationally. I’m the guy that got the Brady Bill passed, the background checks, number one. Number two, we increased that background check when — during the Obama-Biden administration. I’m also the only guy that got assault weapons banned, banned, and the number of clips in a gun banned. … And, lastly, we should have smart guns. No gun should be able to be sold unless your biometric measure could pull that trigger.”
  • Mayor Pete Buttigieg: “If more guns made us safer, we would be the safest country on earth. It doesn’t work that way. And common-sense measures like universal background checks can’t seem to get delivered by Washington, even when most Republicans, let alone most Americans, agree it’s the right thing to do. And as somebody who trained on weapons of war, I can tell you that there are weapons that have absolutely no place in American cities or neighborhoods in peacetime, ever.”
  • Senator Kirsten Gillibrand: “So if you’re talking about ending gun violence, it’s the greed of the NRA and the gun manufacturers that make any progress impossible… Imagine — we’re in Florida — imagine the Parkland kids having as much power in our democracy as the Koch brothers or the NRA.”
  • Senator Kamala Harris: “The problem is Congress has not had the courage to act which is why when elected president of the United States, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to pull their act together, bring all these good ideas together, and put a bill on my desk for signature. And if they do not, I will take executive action and I will put in place the most comprehensive background check policy we’ve had. I will require the ATF to take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law. And I will ban by executive order the importation of assault weapons.”
  • Senator Bernie Sanders: “We have a gun crisis right now, 40,000 people a year are getting killed. … I have a D-minus voting record from the NRA. And I believe that what we need is comprehensive gun legislation that, among other things, provides universal background, we end the gun show loophole, we end the strawman provision, and I believed in 1988 and I believe today.”
  • Rep. Eric Swalwell: “Keep your pistols, keep your rifles, keep your shotguns, but we can take the most dangerous weapons from the most dangerous people. We have the NRA on the ropes, because of the Moms, because of the Brady Group, because of Giffords, because of March for our Lives.”

See the full debate transcript from NBC News 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. Gun policy was ranked the top issue Democratic voters wanted to hear about in debates, behind only climate change, in a new Morning Consult/Politico poll released earlier this week.

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.

Last month, 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. Each candidate has until early July to complete and return the questionnaire in order to be considered for the presidential Gun Sense Candidate distinction this cycle. 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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