WASHINGTON – Sen. Kamala Harris vowed Monday to sign executive orders on gun control if she wins the Democratic nomination and defeats President Donald Trump in 2020.
“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. And if they fail to do it, then I will take executive action,” said the California senator when asked about school shootings during a CNN town hall event.
Harris said “conversations take place every night between students and their parents” about why school shootings keep happening.
She said the answer is that politicians failed “to reject a false choice which suggests you’re either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away.”
Harris – who has said she is a gun owner – said those political leaders “failed to have the courage to act” on legislation, such as a requirement for universal background checks on gun purchases and a renewal of the assault weapons ban.
As for her executive actions, she said she will issue a background check requirement for “anyone who sells more than five guns a year.” She also said she would direct the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms to focus more on the firearm element of its regulatory and law enforcement mandate.
“I will require that for any gun dealer that breaks the law, the ATF take their license,” she said.
Harris also said “none of us has been sleeping over the past two years” since the Trump administration “took fugitives off the list” of people prohibited from buying firearms. “I’d put them back on the list, meaning that fugitives from justice should not be able to purchase a handgun or any kind of weapon,” she said.
Harris appeared to be referring to February 2017 Justice Department guidance that narrowed the definition of a fugitive from justice. The definition changed from someone with outstanding warrants to someone who fled the state in order to avoid “imminent prosecution.”
Democrats like Harris have blamed Trump for the change while conservatives have said the change was decided during the Obama administration. But a 2016 report from the Justice Department’s Office of the Inspector General reveals that the debate between the ATF and FBI over the legal definition dated back to the Bush administration and was resolved around the time Trump took office.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, another 2020 Democratic candidate, said during her own CNN town hall on Monday that it “is a crime that we don’t have universal background checks.”
“That is something that I pledge to you as your president … I will take on in a big way,” Klobuchar said.
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren also called for gun control measures when asked what she would do to protect police officers from being killed in the line of duty.
“We need universal background checks. We need to take weapons of war off our city streets,” Warren said. “We need as a country to step up, to be more responsible, to be willing to push back against the NRA and to put some sensible gun safety laws in place.”