Grief, Carnage, and Gun Control

“So this is a sobering reminder that attacks on any American — regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or sexual orientation — is an attack on all of us and on the fundamental values of equality and dignity that define us as a country. And no act of hate or terror will ever change who we are or the values that make us Americans.” Barak Obama


President Obama responded to 14 mass shootings  from 2012 – 2016 with gravity and compassion during his term in office including the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting, the Charleston church shooting, the Aurora Movie Theatre Shooting, the Orlando nightclub shooting, Gabby Giffords assassination attempt, two Fort Hood shootings, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shooting, the Navy Yard shooting, the Kansas Jewish Community Center shooting, the Chattanooga recruitment center shooting, and more.

2017 saw the nation’s single deadliest mass shooting in Las Vegas with 58 dead. This was followed by a mass killing at a Sutherland Springs Texas church that killed 26 church goers. a Congressional baseball game shooting, along with 19 other mass shootings that year.

2018 included the Stoneman Douglass High School shooting in Parkland Florida that killed 17, the Sante Fe High School shooting that killed ten, the Pittsburg Tree of Life Synagogue shooting that killed 11 along with other mass shootings that year.

There were more mass shootings across the U.S. in 2019 than there were days in the year, according to a gun violence research group. 2019 had the highest number of mass shootings in any year since the research group started keeping track.

By the end of 2019, there were 417 mass shootings in the U.S., according to data from the nonprofit Gun Violence Archive (GVA), which tracks every mass shooting in the country. Thirty-one of those shootings were mass murders. This includes the Walmart shooting in El Paso Texas that killed 22 people,  and the Dayton Ohio killer who used an AR-15 to kill 9.

How should our leaders respond? Here is how Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden stand on gun control:

A Federal Assault Weapons Ban

These types of weapons, including AR-15 style semi-automatic rifles,  have been used to perpetuate the most lethal mass shootings in U.S. history.  The 1994 Assault Weapons Ban ended in 2004 . Most reviews of the 1994 version of the assault weapons ban point to loopholes in the text of the bill that, some argue, made it less effective than some would have wanted. Recently, while co-sponsoring legislation to ban military-style semiautomatic weapons, divided Democrats have stepped back.

Biden and Sanders support the ban with a voluntary buyback plan.

       Should federal law require gun owners to obtain a license or permit?

Gun-control activists argue that federal law should require gun owners to obtain a license or permit for purchasing firearms, which a study found reduced gun deaths. Right now, only six states and the District of Columbia require a license or permit to purchase all types of guns:  Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, Illinois, California and Hawaii. Seven states require either a permit or a license for only handguns: Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, and Rhode Island. Washington only requires a firearms safety certification for semiautomatic rifles.

Sanders believes a license should only be required for assault weapons. Biden is against a federal law requiring gun owners to obtain a license.

Should federal law require gun owners to register every firearm they own?

This proposal would require gun owners to register their firearms with law enforcement. Advocates say such a federal database would hold gun owners accountable by more closely tying a gun to its owner. Opponents say such a registry would provide the federal government with too much information about gun owners and possibly lead to confiscation of their firearms. Only six states and the District of Columbia have some version of gun registries, while eight states prohibit registries of firearms. These registries vary from registering a hand guns to assault pistols, weapons and large capacity magazines.

Biden and Sanders believe there should be a federal gun registry for assault weapons only.  

Should the federal minimum age to purchase a gun be increased to 21
for all sales?

Federal law prohibits licensed gun dealers from selling handguns to anyone under 21 and long guns to anyone under 18, though unlicensed sellers face fewer restrictions. State laws are a patchwork, and some allow those in rural areas as young as 14 to buy guns used for hunting.

Sanders supports an increase of minimum age to 21 except for long guns and shot guns with fixed capacity magazines that are primarily intended for hunting. Biden has not taken a stand on this.

Support for a federal “red flag” law

Seventeen states and the District have adopted “red-flag” laws, also known as extreme risk protection orders, that allow courts to temporarily block access to guns for individuals deemed mentally unfit following a petition from family members or law enforcement. Supporters say the laws have been used to preempt mass shootings and suicides where they have been implemented. A September 2019 Washington Post-ABC News poll found 86 percent of the public favors such a law.

 Sanders supports a federal red flag law. Biden will encourage states to pass this type of law.

Should federal law require a background check for every gun purchase?

Federally licensed gun dealers are required by the Gun Control Act of 1968 to conduct a background check on buyers before selling a gun, but occasional sellers can do so without such a check. A September 2019 Washington Post-ABC News poll found 89 percent of the public favor requiring background checks for all potential gun buyers.

Biden and Sanders support federal law requiring a background check.

The Specifics of the Gun Control Plans

Vox has focused on the plans of  Biden  and  Sanders.  The New York Times further profiled each candidate and their view of gun control.


Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar, Steyer and Warren support the federal assault ban with a voluntary buyback plan. Gabbard supports the ban,  but unclear about buyback.

Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Harris, Steyer and Warren believe federal law should require all gun owners obtain a license. Klobuchar supports a gun licensing proposal but has not declared a position as to what type of gun. Gabbard is unclear as to where she stands on this.

Warren and Harris support a federal gun registry for all guns. Bloomberg and Steyer believe there should be a federal gun registry for assault weapons only.  Buttigieg does not support a federal gun registry. Both Klobuchar and Gabbard have not taken a stand.

Harris, Klobucher, Steyer and Warren all believe the federal minimum age to purchase a gun should be increased to 21. Bloomberg believes it should be increased to 21 to purchase handguns, semi-automatic rifles and shotguns. . Buttigieg does not support increasing the federal minimum age to 21. Harris

 Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Harris, Klobuchar,  Steyer and Warren support a federal red flag law. Gabbard has not taken a stand on this.

Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Gabbard, Harris, Klobuchar,  Steyer and Warren all support federal law requiring a background check.

The Status of The Primaries

Governor Deval Patrick, Andrew Yang, and Senator Matthew Bennet have withdrawn from the primary race.

Delegate totals including Iowa and New Hampshire (updated Feb 20):
Pete Buttigieg 23, Bernie Sanders 21, Elizabeth Warren 8, Amy Klobucher 7, Joe Biden 6, Michael Bloomberg, Tulsi Gabbard and  Tom Steyer: 0

The Democratic nomination isn’t decided by who wins the most votes, but by which candidates receive the most delegates — people selected by each campaign from every state or district — to represent them at the Democratic National Convention, taking place July 13-16 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the convention, a candidate will be nominated when a simple majority of 1,991 out of 3,979 total pledged delegates support a given candidate.

This was discussed at last evening’s Nevada’s debate as Bernie Sanders is the only candidate who believes the candidate with the most delegates should win, even if he/she doesn’t have the majority. Otherwise, if no candidate hits that threshold (a majority) initially, superdelegates would be allowed to vote on a second ballot. They include members of Congress and other party leaders

My initial 2020 post explains the importance of each state’s primary.  This includes the upcoming Saturday Feb 22 Nevada Caucus, in addition to the following Saturday Feb 29 South Carolina Primary.  The number of delegates at stake on March 3 Super Tuesday is 40% of the total delegation allocation.

The gloves were off for last evening’s Nevada debate. Tune in for the next debate,; Tuesday,  February 25 in South Carolina.  Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Klobuchar, Sanders, and Warren. Steyer might qualify, but it’s unlikely if Gabard will.


  • Get involved, volunteer, and/or donate to the following organizations that fight for public safety measures that protect people from gun violence:

Moms Demand Action For Gun Sense in AmericaGuns Down America
Brady United Against Gun ViolenceCoalition to Stop Gun Violence
Everytown for Gun Safety , Giffords , Sandy Hook Promise,
Newtown Action Alliance

  • Volunteer, donate and/or attend rallies and public events for the Democratic Primary candidate that you support:
    Biden, Bloomberg, Buttigieg, Gabbard, Klobucher,  Sanders,  Steyer, Warren.
  • Volunteer and/or donate to your House Representative (all up for re-election) , and your local Senate re-election campaigns  Future posts will be dedicated to the Congressional races.
  • Volunteer to Get Out The Vote (GOTV) like Rock The Vote, League of Women Votersand more posted on the Nov 19 post.
  • The United States census is a snapshot of America that determines how congressional seats are apportioned, how state and federal dollars are distributed, where businesses choose to ship products and where they build new stores. Join individuals, businesses, government organizations, nonprofits and community leaders who have a role to play in the 2020 Census.


Next Post: Immigration

About Debra29

I am a retired public school teacher who believes that a strong democracy rests on the shoulders of its citizens. This blog was created as a central resource of civic engagement. Together, we can make a difference. Follow me on Twitter: Determined@2AlterTheCourse
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