Gun Control | 2016 Democratic Presidential Candidates

January 22, 2016   |   Category: Blog   |   Tags: ,

What do the Democratic Candidates Believe About Gun Control?

Y=supports gun control N= Does not support gun control


Hillary ClintonHillary Clinton: Y

Hillary Clinton’s Gun Control Ad Swells ‘Gun Violence’ Number 66 Percent by Including Suicides

Democrat presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton released a new gun control ad in which she combines suicides with firearm-related homicides and, as a result, elevates “gun violence” figures by approximately 66 percent.
While this tact is nothing new, the fact that Clinton is now making these claims in ads that will run over and over again suggests she is willing to benefit from highly inflated, inaccurate numbers, rather than correct the record.
The ad opens with Clinton saying, “This epidemic of gun violence knows no boundaries. Between 88 and 92 people a day are killed by guns. We’re better than this.”
Note the phrase “killed by guns,” which suggests lives are taken by violence perpetrated against innocents. She puts a figure on it, claiming “88 to 92″ lives are taken each day by such violence. And she avails herself of the best gun control talking points by describing “gun violence” at this level as an “epidemic.” But here’s the problem with this overarching message: it isn’t true.
In reality, actual firearm-related homicides each year hover between approximately 8,500 and 11,000. And many of these are the result of the kind of gang violence and street crime we see in cities like Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, Milwaukee, New Orleans, New York City, Philadelphia, and St. Louis, among other Democrat-controlled cities…
…The reality can be seen by looking at facts. In 2011, the FBI reported a total of 8,583 murders with firearms, and the CDC statistics show a total of 19,766 suicides with a firearm. Taken together, those figures total 28,349, only about 30 percent of which were the result of actual “gun violence.” Lumping them together gave Bloomberg a 70 percent boost.

Hillary Clinton vows to be gun-control president

Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton said Wednesday that she felt “great heartache” over the shooting ambush that killed a TV news reporter and cameraman live on air in Virginia, pledging that as president she would fight for more gun-control laws.
“We have got to do something about gun violence in America — and I will take it on,” Mrs. Clinton said in an on-camera statement to reports while on campaign trail in Iowa…
…In an emotional plea for more restrictive gun laws, Mrs. Clinton said that too many people known that the availability of firearms is a problem in the United States but avoid the subject because “it is hard.”…

Hillary Clinton vows executive action on gun control if elected president

President Obama has been pushing tougher gun laws for years, but couldn’t overcome resistance from pro-Second Amendment lawmakers from both parties, who argue the measures would not stop criminals or madmen from obtaining firearms.
Mrs. Clinton called for expanded and stricter background checks, including prohibiting domestic abusers and stalkers from buying firearms, a ban on military-style weapons and a repeal of a 2005 law that she said grants firearms manufacturers and dealers “immunity” from lawsuits by victims of gun violence.

Hillary Clinton Supports Australia-style Gun Confiscation

It’s one thing to support gun control. It’s another to make it the centerpiece of a floundering presidential primary campaign.
But Hillary Clinton wasn’t finished when she latched onto the idea of opposing the NRA as a means of diverting the nation from the humiliating scandals and poll results plaguing her own bid to succeed Barack Obama.
First, she announced to her wealthy supporters that “the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment,” which demonstrates her opposition to the individual right to keep and bear firearms, including handguns, for self-defense… gun control. “The Australian example,” she said, “that was a buyback program.” She went on to explain that the Australian government “offered a good price” for “buying hundreds of thousands of guns, and then they basically clamped down going forward … .” They were thus able, she explained, “to curtail the supply” of guns and “to set a different standard for gun purchases in the future.”…


The Australian and U.K. “buybacks” were merely an attempt to mollify firearm owners whose property had been declared contraband and subject to seizure. They were, to paraphrase Vito Corleone, an offer gun owners could not refuse…

Hillary Clinton on Gun Control:

As Hillary Clinton mulls running for president in 2016, she has been careful to shy away from broad, sweeping policy declarations. But not when she delivered harsh criticism of gun culture in America and denounced the idea that “anybody can have a gun, anywhere, at any time.” Clinton didn’t dispute Americans’ right to own guns. But she said access to guns in the U.S. had grown “way out of balance.”


“We’ve got to rein in what has become an almost article of faith that anybody can have a gun anywhere, anytime,” she said. “And I don’t believe that is in the best interest of the vast majority of people.”
Citing a number of shootings that arose from minor arguments over loud music or texting, she drew a comparison: “That’s what happens in the countries I’ve visited where there is no rule of law and no self-control.” She added: “That is something that we cannot just let go without paying attention.”
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Anywhere, Anytime Gun Culture” , May 6, 2014

2000: advocate for national gun registry; 2008: backed off

Gun rights groups have long considered Mrs. Clinton their foe. Her 2000 Senate campaign centered on a push to keep guns off the streets, and she was a forceful advocate of creating a national gun registry. But eight years later, as she faced off against then-Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic primary, she positioned herself as more conservative than him on gun control. She backed off the proposal for a national registry and publicly recounted how her father had taught her how to shoot as a little girl–a story that prompted Obama to ask if she was seeking Annie Oakley comparisons. Gun control groups criticized her change in tune [back to strongly supporting gun control] as hypocritical and politically motivated.


Her position on gun control puts her at odds with the staunchly pro-gun GOP, and the push for gun control laws at the federal level has been historically unsuccessful. As president, Bill Clinton sought to tighten gun laws but was unable to achieve lasting effects.
Source: Wall Street Journal, “Anywhere, Anytime Gun Culture” , May 6, 2014

Balance lawful gun ownership & keeping guns from criminals

Q: Both you and Sen. Obama, in the past, have supported strong gun control measures. But now when I listen to you on the campaign, I hear you emphasizing that you believe in an individual’s right to bear arms. Both of you were strong advocates for licensing of guns. Both of you were strong advocates for the registration of guns. Why don’t you emphasize that now?
CLINTON: I respect the Second Amendment. I respect the rights of lawful gun owners to own guns, to use their guns, but I also believe that most lawful gun owners whom I have spoken with for many years across our country also want to be sure that we keep those guns out of the wrong hands. And as president, I will work to try to bridge this divide, which I think has been polarizing and, frankly, doesn’t reflect the common sense of the American people. We will strike the right balance to protect the constitutional right but to give people the feeling & the reality that they will be protected from guns in the wrong hands.
Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008


Give local police access to federal gun tracking info

I will be a good partner, for cities like Philadelphia, as president. Because I will bring back the so-called COPS program, where we had 100,000 police on the street, which really helped drive down the crime rate and also helped create better community relations.
I will also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We had it during the 1990s. It really was an aid to our police officers, who are now once again, because it has lapsed–the Republicans will not reinstate it–are being outgunned on our streets by these military-style weapons.
I will also work to make sure that police departments get access to the federal information that will enable them to track illegal guns, because the numbers are astounding. Probably 80% of the guns used in gun crimes got there illegally. And under the Republicans, that information was kept from local law enforcement.
Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008

Let states & cities determine local gun laws

Q: Do you support the DC handgun ban?
A: I want to give local communities the authority over determining how to keep their citizens safe. This case you’re referring to is before the Supreme Court.


Q: But what do you support?
A: I support sensible regulation that is consistent with the constitutional right to own and bear arms.
Q: Is the DC ban consistent with that right?
A: I think a total ban, with no exceptions under any circumstances, might be found by the court not to be. But DC or anybody else [should be able to] come up with sensible regulations to protect their people.
Q: But do you still favor licensing and registration of handguns?
A: What I favor is what works in NY. We have one set of rules in NYC and a totally different set of rules in the rest of the state. What might work in NYC is certainly not going to work in Montana. So, for the federal government to be having any kind of blanket rules that they’re going to try to impose, I think doesn’t make sense.
Source: 2008 Philadelphia primary debate, on eve of PA primary , Apr 16, 2008


Against illegal guns, crack down on illegal gun dealers

I am against illegal guns, and illegal guns are the cause of so much death and injury in our country. I also am a political realist and I understand that the political winds are very powerful against doing enough to try to get guns off the street, get them out of the hands of young people. I don’t want the federal government preempting states and cities like New York that have very specific problems. We need to have a registry that really works with good information about people who are felons, people who have been committed to mental institutions. We need to make sure that that information is in a timely manner, both collected and presented. We do need to crack down on illegal gun dealers. This is something that I would like to see more of. We need to enforce the laws that we have on the books. I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure because bad guys now have assault weapons again.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas , Jan 15, 2008


Backed off a national licensing registration plan on guns

I believe in the Second Amendment. People have a right to bear arms. But I also believe that we can common-sensically approach this, and backed off a national licensing registration plan.
Source: 2008 Democratic debate in Las Vegas , Jan 15, 2008


Get assault weapons & guns off the street

Q: How would you address gun violence that continues to be the #1 cause of death among African-American men?
A: I think it’s important to remember that the crime rate was driven down, & gun violence was driven down in the 1990s because of a combination of policies, like 100,000 police on the street and getting assault weapons off the street, and because of a growing economy. 22 million new jobs gave people who were hopeless a better chance for a future. So I want to get back to what works. This administration has tried to kill the 100,000 police. You’ve got mayors whose police force is outgunned by the criminals and the gang-bangers. Assault weapons are back on the street. We’ve got to go and do what works again. In addition to having policies that will get guns off the street, we do have to give young men particularly a better chance of a future that includes educational & economic opportunities & second chances when they get caught up in the criminal justice system.
Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum , Jul 12, 2007

Background check system could prevent Virginia Tech massacre

Q: Did any role that federal government plays fail those students at Virginia Tech?
A: Yes. You know, I remember very well when I accompanied Bill to Columbine after that massacre and met with the family members of those who had been killed and talked with the students, and feeling that we had to do more to try to keep guns out of the hands of the criminal and of the mentally unstable. And during the Clinton administration, that was a goal–not to, in any way, violate people’s Second Amendment rights, but to try to limit access to people who should not have guns. Unfortunately, we saw the tragedy unfold at Virginia Tech. We now know that the background check system didn’t work, because certainly this shooter, as he’s called, had been involuntarily committed as a threat to himself and others. And, yet, he could walk in and buy a gun.
Source: 2007 South Carolina Democratic primary debate, on MSNBC , Apr 26, 2007


Congress’ failure at Littleton response inspired Senate run

A month after the Columbine shootings, Bill & I went to Littleton Colorado to visit with the families of victims & survivors. The Columbine tragedy was not the first, nor the last, episode involving gun violence at an American high school. But it ignited a call for more federal action to keep guns out of the hands of the violent, troubled and young–a lethal combination. Bill and I announced a proposal to raise the legal age of handgun ownership to 21, and limit purchases of handguns to one per month.


Source: Living History, by Hillary Rodham Clinton, p. 503-4 , Nov 1, 2003


Keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them

We need to stand firm on behalf of sensible gun control legislation. We have to enact laws that will keep guns out of the hand of children and criminals and mentally unbalanced persons. Congress should have acted before our children started going back to school. I realize the NRA is a formidable political group; but I believe the American people are ready to come together as a nation and do whatever it takes to keep guns away from people who shouldn’t have them.


Source:, “Gun Safety” , Sep 9, 2000


Limit access to weapons; look for early warning signs

We have to make sure that our schools are safe. Our schools need more help from parents and from communities, and we also need more social workers and counselors who are trained to see the early warning signs. No school security system or metal detector can keep out the culture of violence that dominates the lives of so many of our children. We have to address issues of culture, and we have to ensure that young people do not have easy access to weapons; not only firearms but bomb making material.
Source:, “Safe Schools” , Sep 9, 2000


License and register all handgun sales

Hillary Rodham Clinton offered her support for a legislative proposal to license hand guns. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Charles Schumer, would require anyone who wants to purchase a gun to obtain a state-issued photo gun license. “I stand in support of this common sense legislation to license everyone who wishes to purchase a gun,” Clinton said. “I also believe that every new handgun sale or transfer should be registered in a national registry, such as Chuck is proposing.”
Source: , Jun 2, 2000


Tough gun control keeps guns out of wrong hands

I think it does once again urge us to think hard about what we can do to make sure that we keep guns out of the hands of children and criminals and mentally unbalanced people. I hope we will come together as a nation and do whatever it takes to keep guns away from people who have no business with them.
Source: Press Release , Jul 31, 1999


Gun control protects our children

We will not make progress on a sensible gun control agenda unless the entire American public gets behind it. It is really important for each of you [kids] to make sure you stay away from guns. If you have guns in your home, tell your parents to keep them away from you and your friends and your little brothers and sisters.
Source: Forum at South Side Middle School in Nassau County , Jul 15, 1999


Don’t water down sensible gun control legislation

We have to do everything possible to keep guns out of the hands of children, and we need to stand firm on behalf of the sensible gun control legislation that passed the Senate and then was watered down in the House. It does not make sense for us at this point in our history to turn our backs on the reality that there are too many guns and too many children have access to those guns-and we have to act to prevent that.
Source: Remarks to NEA in Orlando, Florida , Jul 5, 1999


Lock up guns; store ammo separately

If you own a gun… make sure it’s locked up and stored without the ammunition. In fact, make it stored where the ammunition is stored separately. We’ve made some progress in the last several years with the Brady Bill and some of the bans on assault weapons, but we have a lot of work to do.
Source: ABC’s “Good Morning America” , Jun 4, 1999


Ban kids’ unsupervised access to guns

Q: What actions can students take to help gun control further?


A: Young people, especially teenagers, [should pledge] to not give any child unsupervised access to a firearm; not to go into homes, or let your younger siblings go into homes where you know guns are and are not safely stored and taken care of. You guys are going to a party, make sure there are no guns around. If you own a gun or you know people who do, make sure it’s locked up and stored without the ammunition.
Source: ABC’s “Good Morning America” , Jun 4, 1999


Get weapons off the streets; zero tolerance for weapons

The first step is to take weapons off the streets and to put more police on them. The Brady Bill, which my husband signed into law in 1995, imposes a 5-day waiting period for gun purchases, time enough for authorities to check out a buyer’s record and for the buyer to cool down about any conflict he might have intended the gun to resolve. Since it was enacted, more than 40,000 people with criminal records have been prevented from buying guns. The 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act banned 19 types of military-style assault weapons whose only purpose is to kill people.


As part of a “zero tolerance” policy for weapons, drugs, and other threats to the safety of teachers and students, the President signed an executive order decreeing that any student who comes to school with a gun will be expelled and punished as a condition of federal aid.
Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.126 , Sep 25, 1996


Voted NO on prohibiting lawsuits against gun manufacturers.

A bill to prohibit civil liability actions from being brought or continued against manufacturers, distributors, dealers, or importers of firearms or ammunition for damages, injunctive or other relief resulting from the misuse of their products by others. Voting YES would:
Exempt lawsuits brought against individuals who knowingly transfer a firearm that will be used to commit a violent or drug-trafficking crime
Exempt lawsuits against actions that result in death, physical injury or property damage due solely to a product defect
Call for the dismissal of all qualified civil liability actions pending on the date of enactment by the court in which the action was brought
Prohibit the manufacture, import, sale or delivery of armor piercing ammunition, and sets a minimum prison term of 15 years for violations
Require all licensed importers, manufacturers and dealers who engage in the transfer of handguns to provide secure gun storage or safety devices


Reference: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; Bill S 397 ; vote number 2005-219 on Jul 29, 2005


Voted NO on banning lawsuits against gun manufacturers for gun violence.
Vote to pass a bill that would block certain civil lawsuits against manufacturers, distributors, dealers and importers of firearms and ammunition, mainly those lawsuits aimed at making them liable for gun violence. In this bill, trade groups would also be protected The bill would call for the dismissal of pending lawsuits against the gun industry. The exception would be lawsuits regarding a defect in a weapon or ammunition. It also would provide a 10-year reauthorization of the assault weapons ban which is set to expire in September 2004. The bill would increase the penalties for gun-related violent or drug trafficking crimes which have not resulted in death, to a minimum of 15 years imprisonment. The bill calls for criminal background checks on all firearm transactions at gun shows where at least 75 guns are sold. Exemptions would be made available for dealers selling guns from their homes as well as members-only gun swaps and meets carried out by nonprofit hunting clubs.
Reference: Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act; Bill S.1805/H.R.1036 ; vote number 2004-30 on Mar 2, 2004


Prevent unauthorized firearm use with “smart gun” technology.
Clinton adopted the manifesto, “A New Agenda for the New Decade”:


Make America the “Safest Big Country” in the World
After climbing relentlessly for three decades, crime rates started to fall in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the public remains deeply concerned about the prevalence of gun violence, especially among juveniles, and Americans still avoid public spaces like downtown retail areas, parks, and even sports facilities.


We need to keep policing “smart” and community-friendly, prohibiting unjust and counterproductive tactics such as racial profiling; focus on preventing as well as punishing crime; pay attention to what happens to inmates and their families after sentencing; use mandatory testing and treatment to break the cycle of drugs and crime; and enforce and strengthen laws against unsafe or illegal guns. Moreover, we need a renewed commitment to equal justice for all, and we must reject a false choice between justice and safety.


Technology can help in many areas: giving police more information on criminal suspects so they do not rely on slipshod, random stop-and-search methods; allowing lower-cost supervision of people on probation or parole; and making it possible to disable and/or trace guns used by unauthorized persons.


Above all, we need to remember that public safety is the ultimate goal of crime policy. Until Americans feel safe enough to walk their neighborhood streets, enjoy public spaces, and send their children to school without fear of violence, we have not achieved public safety.


Goals for 2010

Reduce violent crime rates another 25 percent.
Cut the rate of repeat offenses in half.
Develop and require “smart gun” technology to prevent use of firearms by unauthorized persons and implement sensible gun control measures.
Ban racial profiling by police but encourage criminal targeting through better information on actual suspects.
Require in-prison and post-prison drug testing and treatment of all drug offenders.


Source: The Hyde Park Declaration 00-DLC11 on Aug 1, 2000

Bernie SandersBernie Sanders: Y

Bernie Sanders on Gun Policy

Overall, Bernie Sanders believes in a middle-ground solution in the national gun debate, saying in a recent interview:
“Folks who do not like guns [are] fine. But we have millions of people who are gun owners in this country — 99.9 percent of those people obey the law. I want to see real, serious debate and action on guns, but it is not going to take place if we simply have extreme positions on both sides. I think I can bring us to the middle.”
Gun Control: Gun control legislation should ultimately fall on individual states, with the exception of instant background checks to prevent firearms from finding their way into the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, and a federal ban on assault weapons.
Manufacturer Liability: Gun manufacturers should not be held liable for the misuse of their products, just as any other industry isn’t held accountable for how end-consumers use their products.


Gun Control

Bernie believes that gun control is largely a state issue because attitudes and actions with regards to firearms differ greatly between rural and urban communities. Nevertheless, Bernie believes there are situations where the federal government should intervene. He voted in favor of requiring background checks to prevent firearms from getting into the hands of felons and the mentally ill, passing a federal ban on assault weapons, and closing loopholes which allows private sellers at gun shows and on the internet to sell to individuals without background checks.
What examples are there to show this divide between rural and urban communities?
The state of Vermont, which Bernie represents as senator, is the most gun-friendly state in the nation, while at the same time it boasts the absolute lowest rate of gun-related crime.

How does Bernie believe gun legislation in the United States should be handled?

Bernie believes in middle-ground legislation. As such, he understands that Americans in rural areas have a very different view towards guns as do those who live in densely populated urban environments. Bernie believes in a solution which promotes gun rights for those who wish to possess them while also ensuring their safe and secure use so that they cannot be used to harm fellow human beings.
To what extent does Bernie believe that gun regulation should be a federal issue?
Bernie has voted in favor of a nationwide ban on assault weapons, a nationwide ban on high-capacity magazines of over ten rounds, and nationwide expanded background checks that address unsafe loopholes.
Bernie believes assault weapons, as well as magazines holding more than ten bullets, should be banned nationwide. Why?
In a recent speech, Bernie explained that, in his view, assault weapons should be categorically banned:
The gun show loophole should be closed to prevent private sellers from selling firearms without background checks.

What is the gun show loophole?

Federal law currently stipulates that only licensed firearms dealers are required to conduct background checks.Bernie supports closing the gun show loophole, which allows private sellers to sell firearms to private buyers without background checks. Currently only ten states require background checks for purchases at gun shows. Moreover, according to the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, a private seller is classified as any seller who doesn’t rely on gun sales as the principal way of making their living. Because of this, it is easy to imagine that many individuals who have a regular source of income outside of selling firearms can claim that they are private sellers. This allows these individuals to exploit the gun show loophole and sell guns without requiring background checks.
What does Bernie propose to do about this?


Bernie has voted in favor of expanded background checks for all commercial sales with an exemption for sales between “family, friends, and neighbors”. Bernie has also voted in favor of a national instant background check system.

How does Bernie believe we should address mass shootings and other gun-related violence?

Bernie believes that we have a crisis in addressing mental health issues in this country, saying in a recent interview:


“We need strong sensible gun control, and I will support it. But some people think it’s going to solve all of our problems, and it’s not. You know what, we have a crisis in the capability of addressing mental health illness in this country. When people are hurting and are prepared to do something terrible, we need to do something immediately. We don’t have that and we should have that.”
Given that 23 percent of the perpetrators of mass shootings have been found to suffer from mental health issues, Bernie believes that expanding access to mental healthcare can address some of the root causes of gun-related violent crime.
Learn more about Bernie’s stances regarding access to mental healthcare here. Also, learn about his policies with regards to addressing other structural causes of violent crime here.

Manufacturer Liability

Manufacturers and sellers of firearms should not be held accountable for the misuse of their products.
What legislation has Bernie voted in favor of to support this?
Bernie voted in favor of the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, which prevents firearms manufacturers and dealers from being held liable for negligence as a result of the misuse of their products.
Why does Bernie support this?
In a recent interview, Bernie said:
“Now, the issues that you’re talking about is, if somebody has a gun and it falls into the hands of a murderer, and that murderer kills somebody with the gun, do you hold the gun manufacturer responsible? Not anymore than you would hold a hammer company responsible if somebody beat somebody over the head with a hammer. That is not what a lawsuit should be about.”
In other words, the instrument itself cannot be held responsible for the being misused by the individual.

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