Where 2020 Democrats agree on gun violence policies — and where they don’t


JUDY WOODRUFF: After the most recent back-to-back
mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Democrats, including the party’s presidential candidates,
renewed their calls for changes to gun laws. Amna Nawaz has more on where the candidates
stand. AMNA NAWAZ: Many of the 2020 candidates spent
the day at a forum in Las Vegas, explaining how they would curb gun violence. As South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg
took the stage, he made clear all the Democratic candidates have a united goal. PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), Presidential Candidate:
I’m guessing that pretty much everybody in the parade of candidates you’re about to see
is going to call for universal background checks, closing the hate loophole, the Charleston
loophole, the boyfriend loophole, disarming domestic abusers, enacting red flag laws,
extreme risk protection orders, banning the sale of assault weapons like what I carried
in Afghanistan. We know what we have to do. AMNA NAWAZ: Our John Yang was at the forum
today, and he joins me now. John, good to talk to you. We heard from Mayor Buttigieg right there. And another candidate, former Vice President
Joe Biden, released his own plan to curb gun violence in the country today. What was notable about that plan? JOHN YANG: Well, Amna, one thing notable,
that was the last of the major candidates to release his gun violence plan. And he chose this forum co-sponsored by Gabby
Giffords’ Gun Violence Foundation and the March For Our Lives group, the student group
founded after the Parkland High School shooting, and this shooting, one day after the second
anniversary of the Harvest Music Festival shooting here in Las Vegas that claimed 58
lives. Fitting his role as sort of the moderate candidate,
Joe Biden’s plan had some moderate points in it. There are three main points. He wants to expand background checks, but,
importantly, he wants to exclude sales between close family members. That’s an exclusion very important to a lot
of gun owners. He also wants to restore the assault weapon
ban, the ban on manufacturing new assault weapons. And for existing assault weapons, he has a
middle ground, not a mandatory buyback, a voluntary buyback. Owners of assault weapons would have to choose,
under his plan, whether to sell their weapon back to the government or undergo a background
check and register in order to keep their assault weapon. So, a middle ground on that — on that issue. AMNA NAWAZ: So, John, a lot of those things,
we heard Mayor Buttigieg list there at the top. When we look broadly at a lot of the candidates’
plans, as they have been put forward, you see some common elements. There’s a lot of common ground among the candidates. Where are the areas of disagreement among
those Democratic presidential candidates right now? JOHN YANG: Well, that’s certainly true. That is sort of the mainstream agreement among
the candidates. But one candidate in particular today, Senator
Cory Booker of New Jersey, tried to distinguish himself from the other candidates. Here he is talking about a national registry
for gun owners. SEN. CORY BOOKER (D-NJ), Presidential Candidate:
Here’s my message to Democrats. The public is already there. Well over 75 percent of Americans support
gun licensing. This isn’t about leadership. Leadership is bringing people along with you. The public is already there. You shouldn’t be a nominee for — from our
party that can seriously stand in front of urban places and say, I will protect you,
if you don’t believe in gun licensing. This isn’t about leadership. This is about you standing with the overwhelming
majority of Americans on gun licensing. JOHN YANG: Another candidate, Senator Elizabeth
Warren of Massachusetts, said the differences in the details of the individual plans aren’t
that important. SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), Presidential Candidate:
This is not going to be a one-and-done to fix this problem. It’s not going to be a, we will get two statutes
passed and three regulations changed, problem fixed, because it won’t be fixed. JOHN YANG: And in so many of the differences
between the candidates on so many issues, it comes down to a breakdown between progressives
and moderates. But on gun buybacks, here’s what our latest
“NewsHour”/NPR/Marist poll found. It showed, among Democrats, there’s broad
support; 70 percent support a mandatory buyback for assault weapons. And look at this. It’s no difference between progressives and
moderates, statistical tie. Both about 70 percent support that. AMNA NAWAZ: And, John, you see those numbers
as the candidates are saying the support is there among a lot of their potential voters
for some of these reforms. As you mentioned, you’re standing there on
the site of the deadliest modern shooting in U.S. history. I’m curious, though. A lot of the activists who are there, who
are at the forum, for whom this might very well be a voting issue, how have they changed
the conversation? And what are you hearing from them about these
plans? JOHN YANG: Yes, producer Meredith Lee talked
to a lot of the people here, the activists who are here. And we want to play some of that tape for
you. First, we’re going to hear from Victor Pacheco,
a 24-year-old from south Central Los Angeles. VICTOR PACHECO, California: So, I really like
the plans of folks like Senator Sanders or Warren. I really appreciate they’re focusing on lower-income
communities, communities that aren’t only experiencing mass gun shootings, but are also
experiencing daily gun violence throughout the community and that are historically not
focused on when it comes to these issues. DELANEY TARR, Co-Founder, March For Our Lives:
I want us to talk about the intersection of gun violence. I think that is a very important thing, the
intersection of gun violence with mental health, with police brutality, with criminal justice. It’s a very widespread and multifaceted issue,
so to really address every single side of gun violence in a way that is not just mass
shootings, that isn’t just the kids from Parkland, but is the churches and the concerts and the
streets and the cities. JOHN YANG: That was Delaney Tarr. She’s 19 years old. She’s from Parkland, Florida, one of the co-founders
of March For Our Lives. They have some differences, but coming together
and agreeing on a lot of the broad strokes of gun control. But one thing in common we heard about, not
only among the candidates, but among the activists here, they feel, in order to get meaningful
gun control laws, they have got to defeat Donald Trump for the White House next November,
and they have got to defeat the Republicans who control the Senate. There was also a lot of talk here about the
National Rifle Association, about how corporate America controls politics, and saying that
the NRA now no longer represents gun owners, but has become a lobby for gun makers — Amna. AMNA NAWAZ: That is John Yang in Las Vegas
for us on an issue that’s sure to be front and center in the 2020 election. Thanks, John.

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