Gun control
September 12, 2019

Lawmakers in California will vote this week on a new gun control bill, which would prohibit anyone younger than 21 from purchasing a semiautomatic rifle.

Under the measure, Californians would also only be allowed to purchase one semiautomatic rifle a month, with the idea being it will make it harder for people to stock up and then illegally sell their excess weapons. State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D) said these are "the weapon of choice over and over again" in deadly mass shootings. "We are focusing on what we think is the most heinous gun that is causing most of the activity."

California already bans the sale of guns to anyone under 21, unless they have a state hunting license. Portantino told the Los Angeles Times that once he found out the 19-year-old suspect in April's deadly shooting at a synagogue in Poway applied for a hunting license, he wanted to close that loophole.

The National Rifle Association and the California Rifle and Pistol Association are both opposed to the bill. Catherine Garcia

September 9, 2019

The Democratic presidential candidates are preparing to duke it out at the third primary debate Thursday evening in Houston, but many of them showed solidarity in an anti-gun violence video posted Monday.

Eight of the 10 candidates who qualified for the debate partnered for the video with the gun control group Giffords, which takes its name from its co-founder, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), who survived an assassination attempt in 2011. The video features Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), former Vice President Joe Biden, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas), and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, all of whom call for stronger gun safety measures with a particular emphasis on making sure children feel safe in their educational settings in the wake of school shootings that have plagued the United States for decades.

Former Housing Secretary Julián Castro and entrepreneur Andrew Yang, the other two candidates who will appear on stage in Houston, were not in the video. Watch the clip below. Tim O'Donnell

August 9, 2019

Julián Castro has a new plan to "defeat this rising tide of white nationalism."

The former Housing and Urban Development secretary spoke to Iowans at the state fair's "Soapbox" stage on Friday, where he and most other Democratic presidential candidates are campaigning before the nation's first primary voters.

In his speech, Castro talked about getting a call from former President Barack Obama with a job offer, called affordable housing a "human right," and advocated for policies like universal pre-k, among other topics. But when it came to addressing this weekend's mass shootings, Castro said what residents such as those in El Paso really need is "action, they need Congress, they need Mitch McConnell to get the Senate back in session and to pass common sense gun safety legislation. That's what we can do for the people of El Paso and the people of Dayton." His words were met with hearty applause.

Castro mentioned his newly released plan to "disarm hate," which Dallas News reports is focused on white nationalism and domestic terrorism. "Our nation's weak gun laws enable violent extremism," Castro said of the plan. The proposal calls for required federal gun licenses, universal background checks, and stricter licensing requirements for gun sellers. The plan also loops in requirements for reporting of hate crimes by local and state law enforcement.

Watch Castro's full remarks below, via the Des Moines Register. Summer Meza

August 7, 2019

After years of blocking any measure that would restrict gun ownership, congressional Republicans are now "coalescing around legislation to help law enforcement take guns from those who pose an imminent danger — a measure that, if signed into law, would be the most significant gun control legislation enacted in 20 years," The New York Times reports. The back-to-back mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, have put Republicans under intense pressure to do something about gun violence, and "red flag" laws appear to be the most likely vehicle for action.

Congressional Democrats, who have already passed universal background check legislation in the House, are also on board with a red flag law, though some want to add on stronger gun control measures to any legislation passed in the Senate. Gun control advocates are enthusiastic about red flag measures, also called "extreme risk protection orders," and the National Rifle Association has been fighting them in states for years.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) has already proposed a bill that would help states enact and enforce such laws, President Trump endorsed the idea on Monday, and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, said he's "confident Congress will be able to find common ground on the so-called red flag issue." Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R) and Dayton's congressman, Rep. Mike Turner (R), both endorsed red flag laws on Tuesday. Washington, D.C., and 17 states have some form of red flag law already on the books.

"Red flag laws might not be as momentous — or controversial — as the now-expired assault weapons ban or the instant background check system, both of which were enacted in 1994 as part of President Bill Clinton's sprawling crime bill," the Times says, but with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) blocking all other gun laws, they "may be the only gun-related measure that could squeeze through." Peter Weber

December 18, 2018

The Trump administration is implementing a ban on bump stocks.

Under a regulation announced by the Department of Justice Tuesday, those who own bump stock devices will have 90 days to either destroy them or turn them into authorities, CNN reports. Bump stocks can be attached to semiautomatic guns, allowing them to fire at a much faster rate, and President Trump's administration has concluded that they therefore fall under the existing federal law banning machine guns.

When this rule goes into effect in 90 days, weapons with bump stocks will be "considered a machine gun," and will be illegal, the Justice Department said, per BuzzFeed News.

President Trump had previously instructed the Justice Department to take a look at the regulations around bump stocks after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in February, per The New York Times. Though that instance did not involve a bump stock, they received increased scrutiny after one was used in the October 2017 shooting in Las Vegas that killed 58 people. Trump made clear his desire to get rid of the devices, writing on Twitter in March, "we will BAN all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns." The administration's final regulation is set to formally publish on Friday. Brendan Morrow

July 4, 2018

While speaking to community leaders in Danville, Kentucky, on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said school shootings are an "epidemic," but he doesn't believe "at the federal level there's much that we can do other than appropriate funds."

Activists are calling for several different reforms, including universal background checks on gun purchases and increasing the legal age to buy guns to 21, which are changes that could be made on the federal level, The Lexington Herald Leader notes.

McConnell told the crowd that Congress has been able to appropriate money for schools to offer counseling and increase campus safety. "You would think, given how much it takes to get on an American plane or given how much it takes to get into courthouses, that this might be something that we could achieve, but I don't think we could get that from Washington," he said. "I think it's basically a local decision." Catherine Garcia

April 11, 2018

On Wednesday, Vermont Gov. Phil Scott (R) signed into law the state's first-ever significant gun ownership restrictions, including raising the minimum age to buy firearms to 21 from 18, banning high-capacity magazines, and requiring background checks for most private gun sales.

"This is not the time to do what's easy, it's time to do what's right," Scott said. Hundreds of people gathered outside the Vermont State House, with supporters of the new legislation cheering and gun rights advocates heckling Scott. Scott, a gun owner, had urged lawmakers to strengthen the laws after police announced last month they foiled a Vermont teenager's plot to shoot up his high school.

Throughout the signing ceremony, Turnbridge resident Ben Tucker yelled at Scott. The "whole thing is wrong," he told The Associated Press. "It's just wrong in every sense of the word." Victoria Biondolillo, a University of Vermont student and Republican Party activist, disagreed. "I think it takes a lot of courage to stand up there when people are screaming at you," she said. "It brought tears to my eyes how proud I am of our state that we can work together on this." Catherine Garcia

March 10, 2018

The Department of Justice on Saturday posted a notice of a regulatory proposal to ban bump stocks, the modification for semi-automatic weapons that permitted the Las Vegas attacker to shoot about 500 people in 10 minutes in October. The DOJ seeks to change the legal "definition of 'machinegun' in the National Firearms Act and Gun Control Act [to include] bump stock type devices," which would effect a ban.

That change would also reverse an Obama-era determination of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) that bump stocks do not fit the machine gun definition and thus cannot be prohibited without new legislation from Congress. Some ATF officials believe that 2010 decision was correct and the Trump administration does not have legal authority to proceed with this ban, the Chicago Tribune reports.

"President Trump is absolutely committed to ensuring the safety and security of every American," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in the DOJ notice, "and he has directed us to propose a regulation addressing bump stocks." Trump has supported a variety of new gun control measures in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida, but his allies and critics alike remain uncertain about the reliability of his stance. Bonnie Kristian

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