Kamala Harris Wants To Wield Presidential Powers To Tackle Gun Violence

The Democratic candidate plans to release a four-point gun safety proposal on Tuesday.
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke about gun violence at a CNN town hall Monday night.
Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris spoke about gun violence at a CNN town hall Monday night.
Drew Angerer via Getty Images

During a CNN town hall on Monday, Sen. Kamala Harris said that, if elected president, she would take executive action in her first months in office to curb gun violence in the U.S. unless Congress acted first.

“Upon being elected, I will give the United States Congress 100 days to get their act together and have the courage to pass reasonable gun safety laws,” said Harris, one of the many Democrats running for president in 2020. “And if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action.”

A longtime proponent of strict gun control, Harris criticized the “false choice” many Americans are forced to make between supporting the Second Amendment and sensible gun control. She then detailed what executive action she planned to take.

The declaration comes ahead of a four-point plan to address gun violence that the California senator’s campaign plans to roll out Tuesday.

“We’re not waiting for a good idea ― we have good ideas,” the Harris campaign writes in a fact sheet that will be released Tuesday. “We’re not waiting for another tragedy ― we have seen the worst human tragedies we can imagine. What’s missing is Republicans in Washington having the courage to stand up” to the National Rifle Association.

Harris has consistently pushed for universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons during her presidential campaign. As California attorney general, she also urged Congress to fund research into the “causes and prevention of gun-related injuries and deaths” and advocated for outlawing weapons with detachable magazines in her state.

According to the fact sheet reviewed by HuffPost, Harris plans to take four concrete steps to address gun violence, three of which she listed Monday night: instituting “near-universal” background checks; revoking the licenses of “gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law”; and reversing a Trump administration decision that her campaign says has allowed thousands of “individuals with outstanding arrest warrants” to buy guns.

On Tuesday, she will additionally push to close the so-called boyfriend loophole, which allows convicted domestic abusers to purchase guns.

“It’s a thoughtful, detailed, bold proposal,” said Peter Ambler, the executive director of Giffords, an anti-gun-violence advocacy organization. “I think that it really shows us, the American people, that she’s willing to take on the NRA and do whatever it takes to protect kids and communities from gun violence.”

The document to be released Tuesday goes into detail on how and why Harris has decided to take each of the four steps if she’s elected. To institute near-universal background checks, she plans to ask the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) to define “gun dealers” ― who must perform background checks ― as anyone who sells five or more guns for profit a year, per a campaign aide.

Harris would also push the ATF to more aggressively revoke the licenses of gun makers and dealers who violate the law, even if they are covered by the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, a 2005 NRA-backed law that protects gun manufacturers and sellers from liability.

“If Congress fails to repeal the PLCAA within her first 100 days, Harris will act herself. Under our plan, any willful and serious violation of federal, state, or local law will lead to a license being revoked,” the Harris proposal says. “The most egregious actors won’t just have their license revoked, they will face criminal liability,” it adds.

Additionally, as president, Harris would direct the ATF to close a loophole that allows convicted domestic abusers who aren’t married to their partners to purchase guns. “People convicted of domestic abuse shouldn’t be able to buy guns just because they’re not married to the person they abused,” her campaign plans to say.

Finally, Harris hopes to reverse a decision made by the Trump administration to define “fugitive from justice” more narrowly, which the Harris campaign says has led to an increase in the number of people with outstanding warrants who have purchased guns.

“This is just part of the gun safety agenda Harris will pursue as president,” the campaign intends to announce on Tuesday. “Harris will fight to make gun trafficking a federal crime, ban high capacity magazines, and prohibit those convicted of a federal hate crime from buying guns.”

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