Democratic presidential candidates bring focus back on gun violence at Las Vegas forum amid impeachment calls
Nine presidential aspirants debated measures for curbing the menace at the event organized to mark the second anniversary of the deadly Las Vegas shooting that killed 58 and left several hundreds injured
The Democrats believe they have President Donald Trump backed into a corner, thanks to his controversial telephonic conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky, but they still have their eyes set on the issue of gun control.
On Wednesday, October 2, the party’s presidential candidates came up with their call for gun control once again and urged Americans to maintain the anti-gun pressure, making it evident that they have not digressed from the key issue despite the noise over impeachment.
A number of Democratic candidates have proposed strict gun control measures, including buying back weapons like New Zealand did after the terror attacks in Christchurch in March.
Nine of the leading candidates spoke at great length at a gun safety policy forum in Las Vegas which was organized by advocacy groups March For Our Lives and Giffords.
Giffords is an anti-gun advocacy forum which was set up by former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords, who survived an assassination attempt in Tucson eight years ago.
The candidates debated the idea of gun buyback and licensing plans among other possible ways of controlling gun violence at the forum that lasted for six hours.
The event was hosted by MSNBC on the second anniversary of the deadly mass shooting at Route 91 Harvest music festival in the city that saw 59 dead (including the killer) and several hundreds injured. 'MSNBC Live' anchor Craig Melvan moderated the event.
One of the candidates, Cory Booker said strong bodies like the National Rifle Association (NRA) and the corporate gun lobby are not the only hurdles in the way of dealing withthe gun menace.
"Change never comes from Washington. It comes to Washington by Americans that demand it. Every one of us in America, right now, by doing nothing, we are implicated in this... We all have to take responsibility," the New Jersey senator said.
The Democrats have felt frustrated by the fact that despite the House passing the background-checks legislation, negotiations between the President Trump administration and lawmakers have failed to achieve the desired results.
Kamala Harris and Joe Biden accuse Trump of doing nothing
California Senator Kamala Harris, who is a supporter of the buyback program along with fellow candidates Booker and Beto O’Rourke, lashed out at Trump saying: "This president has gotten nothing done about much of anything."
She added that the president will use impeachment as an excuse to evade action. Reiterating her support for the gun buyback program, she said: "We have to have a buyback program, and I support a mandatory gun buyback program."
Former vice president Joe Biden, who is in the middle of a serious clash with Trump, echoed Harris' take on Trump’s alleged inaction on controlling gun violence.
"I want to talk about guns and what this guy has done with regard to lack of doing anything rational relating to guns," he said.
O'Rourke criticizes Buttigieg
Beto O’Rourke stuck to his position supporting mandatory buyback of guns and criticized Pete Buttigieg who feels that the buyback idea is making it difficult for building support for gun control.
The Texas representative said Buttigieg is "afraid of doing the right thing right now". He later told the media that he was "really offended" by those remarks.
O’Rourke, who conforms to the viewpoint that the buyback program is supported by most Americans, faced criticism from Booker as well as the latter believed that the Texas politician backed a gun-licensing program only after the occurrence of shooting in his home town El Paso in August.
O'Rourke was, however, happy that Booker backed his idea of gun buyback.
Buttigieg though didn't endorse mandatory gun buyback but backed the idea of banning assault weapons. He said it is not true that the Second Amendment stopped the government from banning certain weapons.
He compared the buyback program to a "shiny object" that makes it tough to pass other gun-control policies. After the event, the South Bend mayor visited the hospital where several injured in the 2017 shooting were treated.
Elizabeth Warren links gun violence to corruption
Elizabeth Warren, one of the frontrunners who has based her 2020 campaign more on fighting corruption, linked the gun menace to the same. She said inaction on gun policy is a symbol of corruption in Washington.
"This is a fundamental question about who Washington works for, and the answer for decades now has been Washington works great for the gun industry. It just doesn’t work great for everyone else in America,” she said.
Among other candidates, while Andrew Yang made gun violence a public health issue and sought reallocation of resources from policing and incarceration to communities that have been hit by the menace, Amy Klobucher was in favor of limiting the size of gun magazines than the weapon's sales.
Julian Castro, on the other hand, said he is in favor of a federal "red flag" law under which people could petition courts to remove guns from individuals considered potentially dangerous to themselves and others.
Tulsi Gabbard open to meeting NRA CEO
Meanwhile, another candidate Tulsi Gabbard was asked during a campaign in New Hampshire whether she would meet Wayne LaPierre, the CEO of the NRA, and she said she was okay with the idea, Associated Press reported.
The question came from a lifetime member of the NRA. Gabbard, who has in the past met Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad to spark controversy, said just as it is in case of the foreign policy, the leaders should be willing to meet anybody and everybody — even adversaries — since the only alternative to diplomacy is war.
Bernie Sanders was not present at the Las Vegas forum as he underwent a heart procedure.