Guns

At Vegas Gun Forum, Democrat Presidential Candidates Agree on Universal Background Checks, Spar Over Mandatory Assault Weapon Buyback

But none seem curious about how America gun homicide rates fell nearly in half from 1990s to early 2010s.

|

Ten Democratic presidential candidates gathered today in Las Vegas, under the auspices of Giffords and March for Our Lives, to talk for a half-hour each at the "2020 Gun Safety Forum." They were questioned individually and sequentially by MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin and audience members; most, if not all of them, connected to some anti-gun-violence group.

Collectively, the first five candidates—South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, Sen. Cory Booker (N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), and former Vice President Joe Biden—supported a set of initiatives they insist have mass popular support, including from gun owners. They argued that these "common sense gun safety" proposals are stymied by a combination of President Trump (who, they stated or implied, must be unseated before anything "sensible" can happen regarding new restrictions on gun owners) and a Congress in the thrall of the gun industry and the National Rifle Association (NRA), with the latter merely standing for the former, not for civil rights or the interests of their gun-owning members.

Audience questions often steered them toward the question of the disproportionate impact of gun violence on black and brown urban communities. (While the candidates didn't run with it, David Hogg, the student activist who was present at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, linked the issue of gun ownership with "white supremacy" without explanation.) None of the candidates mentioned or alluded to the idea that the illegal drug trade plays a large role in that violence, and that liberalizing federal drug laws might help stem gun violence. Biden, in a complete gun law proposal issued today, does mention specific targeted interventions in affected communities, an idea that National Review's Robert VerBruggen praises due to "good evidence showing that they work, and they focus on specific individuals at severe risk of committing gun violence—not everyday people who own guns legally."

Warren was the only candidate savvy and wonky enough to point out something that analysts from the gun-rights side often point out: that the colorful public tragedies that fuel the political demand for action on gun rights would in most cases not have been affected by most of the proposed "common sense" policies that would merely complicate the lives and actions of the overwhelming number of innocent gun owners.

Still, she thinks, that's not a reason not to impose all of them. She suggested that a slow application of every idea to make gun ownership harder or more onerous, like the constellation of safety features the federal government has mandated for cars over the decades, will add up to the results she seeks. In general, she thinks anything that makes sure there are fewer people possessing fewer guns will be good for America.

While agreeing on the broad strokes, including a need for more mental health resources to curb both suicides and potential homicides, each candidate had their own particular points to make.

Buttigieg stressed his desire to spend a billion dollars to have the Department of Homeland Security keep a watchful eye on domestic speech looking for dangerous hateful extremists as a tool to curb gun violence.

Julian Castro stressed higher excise taxes on ammunition and guns and proposed spending the $600-700 million those taxes might raise on gun violence prevention programs. He also thinks making ammunition more uniquely marked and traceable to the gun or buyer would help law enforcement investigate gun crimes.

Cory Booker stressed that we need federal licensing of gun owners because localities with strict gun laws and high gun violence are importing guns from other places. He repeated his unsupported claim that a Connecticut law requiring a permit to buy a gun cut gun homicides 40 percent.

They all think a federal mandate for universal background checks for all gun purchases—not just those from licensed gun dealers, as is the law currently—should be politically easy.

One point of contention was the political feasibility of a mandatory buyback of "assault weapons," such as the one proposed famously by former Texas congressman and fellow presidential hopeful Beto O'Rourke. (None of them mentioned the vanishingly small number of gun murders, around 2 percent, performed with any kind of rifle, or the criminological consensus that the last ban on new sales of such guns had no appreciable effect on public safety.)

Buttigieg considered mandatory assault weapon buybacks a longshot that would sap political capital from efforts to implement more attainable policies like universal background checks, federal licensing, and "red flag" laws to get guns out of the hands of people believed by their family or associates to be dangerous.

Castro is happy to push for a voluntary buyback, plus registering such weapons so the government knows who has them. But he didn't get fully behind the mandatory angle proposed by O'Rourke. The experiences of New Zealand and other places suggest that getting rid of existing legally owned weapons voluntarily, short of going door-to-door, will be tough.

Booker does want a mandatory buyback but insisted that no law making an existing legally owned weapon illegal would ever lead to government men with guns coming door to door, though, in fact, that's exactly what it led to in California. Booker also insisted on federal "safe storage" laws in response to a woman whose son was accidentally shot with a gun a friend's father had left unlocked-up and loaded.

Warren also said something that should be food for thought for those who insist "gun safety" must be a huge federal political priority: She wants more studies trying to drill down into what causes gun violence and what might reduce it. The existing body of such work does not give much reason to hope that there are easily discoverable social science conclusions that can reasonably guide public action.

It is true that our gun murder rate in the past few years has been rising alarmingly, with uncertain causes, though not yet back to the highs of the 1970s-to-mid-1990s. But over the course of a couple of decades from the early '90s to the early '10s, we saw our firearms homicide rate fall nearly by half.

It did so without any of these proposed actions from these candidates having any bearing on the outcome, during a period when the number of guns available to Americans and the states where they had the legal right to carry their weapons outside their home both zoomed up, not down. Thus, the connection between all these proposals and lowering gun homicide rates is far from clear.

NEXT: Ohio Police Fired Blanks During School Shooter Drill, Needlessly Terrifying Students

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. She suggested that a slow application of every idea to make gun ownership harder or more onerous, like the constellation of safety features the federal government has mandated for cars over the decades, will add up to the results she seeks.

    That’s called “salami-slicing,” and it’s typically what leftists try to implement when they can’t achieve their ultimate goal right away–which in this case, is disarming everyone but the elect.

    1. Right, as I’m not sure says below, it’s just a “common sense compromise.” But yesterday’s compromise is today’s loophole, which of course demands more “common sense.”

    2. Democrats want to:
      – nationalize healthcare
      – forcibly remove the elected president
      – extend government handouts, including to foreign nationals, increasing the responsibilities of central government in individual’s lives
      – censor/control communication
      – nationalize energy production
      – disarm the populace

      And I feel like I’m leaving some stuff out.
      But “both sides!” of course…

      1. you forgot national service, former student debt bailouts, universal basic cash transfer, turn the Post Office into a payday lender, ban payday lending, ban vaping, etc.

    3. You can buy a car in an hour or two and drive it off the lot, with only a credit check, driver’s license and proof of insurance.

      1. And you can buy a car from stranger you met on Facebook in 2 minutes with nothing more than a handful of cash

        1. And until you file a NRL with the DMV (can be done online) you will still be liable for civil and criminal actions involving the vehicle. Not sure of the points here.

    4. It is just Fabian socialism.

      1. Yeah, and not coincidentally, the Fabians first mascot was a wolf in sheep’s clothing. At least that was an honest, self-aware portrayal.

  2. “Collectively, the first five candidates supported a set of initiatives they insist have mass popular support, including from gun owners.”

    And should those initiatives be enacted, there will be a new set of “common sense” initiatives proposed.

    Lather, rinse, repeat.

    1. That’s why Beto’s grab-your-guns ploy didn’t boost his poll numbers — they’re mad he showed the endgame.

  3. While the candidates didn’t run with it, David Hogg, the student activist who was present at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in 2018, linked the issue of gun ownership with “white supremacy” without explanation.

    The prefect addition to this circle jerk.

    1. “Hogg, who is currently attending Harvard, also linked 9/11 to the Jews, said they’re working with the Irish to stash pots containing gold to avoid taxes, and said ‘Gays are the way they are so they don’t have kids that could wind up getting shot’. He followed that up with 5 minutes of him making funny faces and armpit farts.”

      1. If you’d have left off the last sentence, it was pretty convincing.

        1. He said it at the Harvard Woke Comedy Festival instead of talking about screwing in an incandescent lightbulb.

      2. That gave me a good laugh. You should post more often.

    2. Point of information, that woman of color Michigan rep with Arafat’s complexion has skin as White as the average Albanian.

  4. Interesting how the media essentially creates these candidates and even produces the issues, grooming them like so much boy band. They put together a forum, manufacture the subject, hand-pick the audience, carefully select the host, then bill it as a media event where “jes folks” are asking tough questions of the candidates.

    1. One wonders how, given the current campaign finance laws*, this is not an in-kind donation.

      * I don’t agree with pretty much any campaign finance laws.

      1. Remember when Trump paying off the hooker was going to become a ‘campaign contribution’, ’cause it was meant to make him ‘llok good’?
        Pelosi should be happy that died a quick death; WIH would you call her payments to her tummy-tucker?

        1. That did not die a quick death. Trump’s personal attorney went to prison for it. Trump is still an unindicted co conspirator to that crime, known as individual 1.

          1. De Oppresso Liber
            October.2.2019 at 11:04 pm
            “That did not die a quick death. Trump’s personal attorney went to prison for it. Trump is still an unindicted co conspirator to that crime, known as individual 1.”
            What an amazing claim!
            What a lack of cites!
            Pretty sure we have a lefty bullshit artist here; prove me wrong, you pathetic piece of shit.

            1. It’s an old trick: You get somebody near your real target dead to rights on something unrelated, and leverage that to get them to plead guilty to committing some crime in conjunction with the person you really are trying to get at. Because they plead guilty, you never have to prove your case in court, what they plead guilty to doesn’t even technically have to be a crime. Because you don’t indict your real target, they never get to put up a defense.

              It’s an old technique prosecutors use to smear people they don’t like, which is why doing it is contrary to DOJ regs.

                1. Is lol shorthand for “I’m sorry I’m such an ignoramus, I’ll temper my opinions to match the actual amount of knowledge I have on a subject in the future”?

          2. BTW, are you a sock or a new fucking lefty ignoramus? Just curious.

            1. Does it matter?
              A hive mind is a hive mind

          3. Still waiting, oh lefty scumbag liar.

          4. Oh, look! Nearly two hours later and fucking lefty ignoramus has yet or provide a cite!
            Do you think that fucking lefty ignoramus may be a fucking lefty bullshitter?
            I do!
            Hey De Oppresso Liber! Put up or, as a fucking lefty ignoramus, STFU.
            Got it, shitbag?

            1. Calm down. Some people have a life.

    2. When do we get to ask the candidates about the 23 trillion dollar national debt?

      1. Next week, when it’s $25 trillion.

      2. The plan is for the children of refugee immigrants to pay the debt, and you though importing oil was bad.

    3. If you think that is bad, Facebook gets most of it’s revenue from advertisers targeting North Americans. Their business model is to turn the rest of the planet into reality TV.

  5. But he didn’t get fully behind the mandatory angle proposed by O’Rourke.

    WHO?!!

  6. Hah, David Hogg.

  7. If anyone should be pro-gun, it’s David Hogg. Do you see how scrawny his arms are?

    1. He’s gonna have armed security the rest of his life. Or at least that’s the plan.

      1. He orobablyisinto bears. And assumes his boyfriend will protect him.

  8. Have any of these candidates asked “Why do more and more Americans think they need to buy more guns?” Do they really believe that there are 15 million “assault weapons” out there that were purchased because the owners are planning some future shooting of the innocent at a school or church or mall? Maybe the best way to reduce the amount of guns in America is to address the causes why so many feel the need to go armed.

    1. I’m sure it has nothing at all to do with their constant screeching about the end of the world from:

      Climate change
      Russians
      Peak oil
      People being allowed to own property
      AIDS
      Dihyrdate Monoxide

      etc etc etc.

      1. Fucking dihydrate monoxide, the base element in every toxic chemical. How is it not banned?

      2. “People being allowed to own property”

        Nice

  9. I debated (in a mass kind of a way) for a while about whether to hand in my AR to the NZ confiscation and eventually did so on Saturday rather than burying it somewhere. They offered me 3/10th of sweet fuck-all compared to what it was worth – so they’ve burned any goodwill I had left to the government or the police. Next time they want something they can go lick my taint.

    I can see why US gun owners want nothing to do with the “reasonable regulation” people as those words are bullshit weasil code for “take everything”.

    1. That’s scary to think about.
      In the US I think you can legally lose your gun. If you can’t find it then you can’t turn it in. If police raid your house and find it then you can thank them as long as you’re not a felon.
      What could happen in NZ if people lose their gun? I once lost a Christmas tree in my attic so it’s possible.

      1. Right now the register of firearms is pretty limited. It only covers pistols and a few semi-auto rifles.

        So yes lots of stuff could (and probably will) be lost, especially thanks to the government’s penny pinching.

          1. There have (reputedly) already been cases of the Police keeping for themselves the best examples of stuff handed in. Not that this is in any way shape or form corruption – no no no no, they’ve told us that is not the case. They’re just being kept as “examples”. Yeah right.

          2. Yup, very unfortunate boating accident. Lost all of em.

            1. That happened to me too!

              All of my neighbors and I went out on the lake in our boat to compare collections, and a freak wave caused every gun to fall into the deep part of the reservoir.

              We’ve decided not to replace them, and instead to collect ammunition as a memento of the guns we no longer have.

    2. You should get enough people together and overthrow your socialist government. Shoot them and start over. Then you can draft a constitution with your own right to bear arms.

    3. “Next time they want something they can go lick my taint.”
      Except…
      “whether to hand in my AR to the NZ confiscation and eventually did so on Saturday rather than burying it somewhere.”

      Your American cousin is disappointed

      1. Your New Zealand lords, on the other hand, are quite thrilled

      2. It was a pretty clapped out AR – I’d put **a lot** of rounds through it and hadn’t treated it very nicely. I was still hoping to get enough $$$ to go buy a flash new toy.

        1. Ah, well I hope you get it some day.
          Though I’m not sure any government will be peacefully convinced to give their subjects any power back

          1. Got me a nice AR style .22 semi auto for bunny and possum potting. Off to break it in at the range this weekend.

            And it’s unregistered so they can go get *****d if they want to subsequently ban it.

    4. “Next time they want something they can go lick my taint.”

      They already got you to cave. Caving will be easier the next time, you get better at it with practice.

    5. I debated (in a mass kind of a way) for a while about whether to hand in my AR to the NZ confiscation and eventually did so on Saturday rather than burying it somewhere.

      The day any kind of mandatory “buyback” is implemented is the day I “lose” every single one of my firearms.

  10. Minority Americans kill each other with firearms because white people.

    I guess that’s a white privilege Harvard education for ya.

  11. “Thus, the connection between all these proposals and lowering gun homicide rates is far from clear.”
    far from clear.

    FAR FROM CLEAR???

    Fuck you, it is non-existent.

    1. Yeah, when it’s a goddam lie, call it a lie.

      1. Progress uber alles
        Reason knows its priorities

  12. Crime continues its decades long decline without their authoritarian restrictions on our fundamental rights. Which is why they created an imaginary “gun violence epidemic”.

    The FBI released the crime statistic for 2018. All crimes are down except Rape, which rose 2.8%.
    Violent Crime -3.1%
    Murder -6.1%
    Robbery -11.6%
    Aggravated Assault -0.7%
    Property Crime -6.1%
    Burglary -12.1%
    Larceny Theft -5.4%
    Motor Vehicle Theft -3.1%
    Arson -9.8%
    And the homicide rate dropped to 5 per 100,000. All this despite the fact that there were 26,181,936 NICS checks in 2018, higher than any year but 2016. We’re buying more guns while committing fewer crimes. Good Job America!

    1. don’t you know, if we only gave the grabbers everything they wanted that murder rate could be 0! prove me wrong!

      1. “prove me wrong!”

        OK.

        From 1995 to 2018 26% (88,720) of homicides were committed without the use of firearms.

        12.57% (43,230) of homicides were with knives, 5.9% (20,293) fists and feet, 4.23% (14,562) blunt objects, 0.97% (3,344) strangulation, 0.78% (2,687), Asphyxiation, 0.71% (2,445), Narcotics 0.35% (1,207), Explosives 0.09% (310) and Poison 0.07% (245).

        1. Us americans really need to step up our explosives game.

      2. And if we dropped all highway speed limits to 30 mph we could probably eliminate a lot of traffic fatalities. But that doesn’t make it a good idea.

    2. rape is up? Is anyone keeping an eye on Bill Clinton?

      1. I have a sneaking suspicion that the actual amount of people being raped hasn’t changed, just that more people are actually reporting it, since we’re in the post #meToo world

  13. Buttigieg stressed his desire to spend a billion dollars to have the Department of Homeland Security keep a watchful eye on domestic speech looking for dangerous hateful extremists as a tool to curb gun violence.

    Wow. 1984 was supposed to be a warning, not an instruction manual. Also, the Department of Homeland Security is the most totalitarianly named of any Federal departments. My god, it sounds like it came from Czechoslovakia circa 1969.

    1. and after “hateful speech” is defined as anything racist or threatening, they will expand the definition to include anything not woke. They already want to ban anyone who doesn’t kiss the climate change ring from any government contracts.

    2. Germans had the Fatherland.

      Soviets had the Motherland.

      We got the Homeland.

    3. Keep in mind that Mayor Pete is an intel officer–this is exactly the kind of authoritarian, Big Brother shit that community loves to jerk themselves off to.

      1. Oh, you should see the nightly videos the Rutgers forensic psychiatry team took of me before my release. And I got breakfast in bed from that security guard every morning after the performance was done.

  14. “…They were questioned individually and sequentially by MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin and audience members; most, if not all of them, connected to some anti-gun-violence group…”

    I’m sure the questioning focused on the sanctity of the Constitution, right?

  15. She wants more studies trying to drill down into what causes gun violence and what might reduce it.

    How about starting off with another “slow application”? Like, study what “causes” gang violence and what might reduce it.

    1. Then try to do something about it. Chicago tried to crack down on gangs by incarcerating the leaders. The result was the gang hierarchy fractured. Like mafia leaders they had kept some discipline and control. There was violence but it got worse after that.

      1. they need to leave a book about the 1930s somewhere in Chicago for a gang leader to find.

      2. Chicago is the new Detroit. When are the Baha’i leaders in that area going to save it by taking it over Haifa style? Beirut was the Paris of the Middle East before those guys teamed up with Reagan to stop all the opera house shootings.

  16. It is really frightening how quickly we have given up our privacy and individual liberty rights. The background checks are just another example. Government is becoming more intrusive every day.

    1. I cant tell you how much I have to scream at my bleeding heart friends about this stuff. Every time one of them is clamoring for the latest nanny state idea from one of the retard dem primary candidates, I have to ask them, “do you know what it would be like giving up that freedom? how would you like it if govt applies their BS to you and not just the people you disagree with politically”

      They cant think 5 minutes ahead of where they are, or realize these things have scary consequences. Just knee-jerk woke reactions

  17. The answer to lowering the incidence of homicide in the US is, of course, quite simple: adopt policies that have shown, over the years, to result in low homicide rates. So what do we have to do to get the homicide rate to about 1/4 of where it currently stands? Simple…. use New Hampshire’s “gun control model.”

  18. It’s not a “buyback” if they didn’t sell it to me.

  19. David Hogg onstage is all you need to know.

    1. ^^^ This does qualify as one of the inner Rings of Hell, does it not?

    2. Attention whore David Hogg…

  20. Is David Hogg gay? I mean…if he is, that’s fine.

    It’s just that if he is gay, it would seem his position on firearms would be more legitimate were he to claim the holy, majestic station in life of lgbtq leftism.

    1. I fully expect him to transition when the media stop giving a shit about him.

    2. He signed for Farakan’s class about becoming a transgender woman.

  21. Amendment II: A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.

    Amend the US Constitution or all the gun control laws are unconstitutional and therefore illegal.

    Fight back by acquitting any defendants facing gun charges you sit on a jury for, contact your Congressmen to repeal all gun laws, and buy ammo.

    We are now somewhere between the ballot box and the ammo box. A long way from respecting the soap box.

  22. That Hogg face.

  23. While agreeing on the broad strokes, including a need for more mental health resources to curb both suicides and potential homicides, each candidate had their own particular points to make.

    Buttigieg stressed his desire to spend a billion dollars to have the Department of Homeland Security keep a watchful eye on domestic speech looking for dangerous hateful extremists as a tool to curb gun violence.

    The Democratics believe American state licensed doctors and Homeland Security agents should do their opposition research. That is why the would never let Ukrainian officials investigate what one of their own might have done in Ukraine. What’s next? Asking Singapore to investigate vandalism during the Clinton administration and caning the American found guilty of that crime?

  24. Picture this:

    Tel Aviv, 5779, a proud male sharmota is on the beach with a man he had just met. The man asked the bitch if he is married, and I replied, “I don’t think so, but the other day a man crushed his cup before running away from me, which means he might think he and I are married. I hope you and I don’t end up in some sort of honor killing situation.”

    I mean I thought about it, and figured that a guy that shy would only go as far as surprising me with a knife attack, if that, and when I was a kid, we called that jogging through Central Park at night.

  25. That’s precisely what we should expect from democrats while they conduct the greatest gun grab in U.S. history. They say universal checking doesn’t mean it will lead to a registry of firearms. But they leave off the last word: “YET.” Fast talking flimflam democrats are known for their incrementalism, grab the guns bolt by hammer. For them, it’s a process that begins with your name. Then they come see you and you fold or fight.

    Democrat red flag laws have brought them closer to Hitleresque controls than ever. They were created to dilute power licensed to the psychiatric community and transfer it to unqualified persons more obedient to democrats, e.g., local judges and crotchety old aunts. Due process demands reports from two psychiatrists, one from each side, legal representation, arraignment, indictment and trial by jury. Democrats have not given an inch.

    They hope we won’t notice their use the flimflam term “gun violence” narrows the focus to fit the objective. The objective of course is to disarm the American public. Think about it. Have you ever heard the term “gun gentleness” used by a politician or anyone else?

    No? Then ask yourself why the democrat party doesn’t focus on just violence instead of gun violence. Fact is they’re after guns, not violence. They couldn’t care less about the entire field of violence because it commingles criminals with peaceable, lawful citizens and dilutes the focus on citizens.

Please to post comments