Elizabeth Warren outlines sweeping new gun control plans
Sen. Elizabeth Warren has unveiled a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence by enacting a suite of new restrictions on buyers, cracking down on sellers and breaking “the (National Rifle Association’s) stranglehold on Congress” with anti-corruption legislation.
The proposal arrives as more than 15 Democratic primary candidates prepare to take turns speaking at a gun safety forum in Des Moines, Iowa, and a week after the mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio.
“The next President has a moral obligation to use whatever executive authority she has to address the gun crisis,” Warren writes in a Medium post. “But it is obvious that executive action is not enough. Durable reform requires legislation — but right now legislation is impossible. Why? A virulent mix of corruption and abuse of power.”
Warren previously described gun violence in America as “a national health emergency” and has, on the campaign trail, called questions about how to keep children safe from school shooters among the most troubling she’s faced as a candidate. On Saturday, she pledged again to end the Senate filibuster, which she describes in her new post as weapon used by “extremists in the Senate to thwart the will of the people.”
The new plan is among Warren’s broadest to date, calling for universal background checks, the passage of a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and the closure of loopholes often targeted by gun control activists.
But Warren also ties it to her signature anti-corruption bill, arguing that the prospects for legislative action rest on wholesale reform to lobbying laws. Additionally, the Massachusetts senator would move to hold gun manufacturers “strictly liable for the harm they cause through a federal private right of action” — opening the industry up to lawsuits from victims of gun violence.
As part of that push, Warren points to previously introduced legislation — typically associated with bankers — designed to hold corporate executives more directly accountable for the actions of their companies. The result, she writes, could mean “holding gun industry CEOs personally accountable” over potential wrongdoing or negligence.
On Friday, Warren called on retail giant Walmart to remove firearms from its shelves.
“Companies that sell guns have a responsibility to the safety of their communities. @Walmart is one of the largest gun retailers in the world,” she tweeted. “The weapons they sell are killing their own customers and employees. No profit is worth those lives. Do the right thing—stop selling guns.”
Walmart has said it plans to remove displays for violent video games from its stores, but has no plans to further reduce its gun selection. The company does not sell assault-style rifles, a change made after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, or any weapons to people under 21 years old.
“I think it would be more effective if instead of taking down pictures of guns, they actually stopped selling guns,” Warren told reporters after an event in Iowa on Friday.
Warren’s plan comes a day after President Donald Trump, who has had discussions with lawmakers from both parties and NRA chief Wayne LaPierre, suggested that Republicans in Congress might be open to passing some new form of background checks.
“No president that feels more strongly about the Second Amendment then I do,” Trump said outside the White House Friday morning. “However, we need meaningful background checks so sick people don’t get guns.”
Still, he has not endorsed any specific measure and many Democrats are skeptical the GOP-led Senate will sign on to any serious new legislation.
During the first round of debates in Miami, Warren called gun violence — both in high-profile mass shootings and in less-heralded cases — “a national health emergency in this country.”
“We can do universal background checks, we can ban the weapons of war, but we can also double down on the research and find out what really works,” Warren said then. “We need to treat this like the virus that’s killing our children.”