Taking Executive Action if Republicans Continue to Cower to the NRA
In 2017, nearly 40,000 people were killed by guns in America. Gun violence is a national epidemic and a public health emergency. We’re not waiting for a good idea – we have good ideas. We’re not waiting for another tragedy – we have seen the worst human tragedies we can imagine. What’s missing is Republicans in Washington having the courage to stand up to the NRA.
Kamala Harris has a simple message: We’re not waiting any longer.
If Congress fails to send comprehensive gun safety legislation to Harris’ desk within her first 100 days as president – including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and the repeal of the NRA’s corporate gun manufacturer and dealer immunity bill – she will take executive action to keep our kids and communities safe.
Here’s what she’ll do:
Mandate near-universal background checks by requiring anyone who sells five or more guns per year to run a background check on all gun sales.
- An estimated 1 in 5 gun purchases in America occur without a background check. These dangerous sales go through because the federal government does not consider most gun sellers that operate online, at gun shows, or out of their garage as being a “dealer” of firearms.
- As a result of this loophole, these gun sellers are not required to conduct background checks by federal law, and millions of guns are sold each year with no questions asked in the 30 states without universal background checks. This is how dangerous people buy guns: about 80% of all firearms acquired for criminal purposes are bought through unlicensed sellers.
- If Congress fails to pass universal background check legislation within her first 100 days, Harris will consider any person or business that sells five or more guns for profit in a calendar year a “dealer” of firearms, and require they conduct background checks on all gun sales.
Revoke the licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers that break the law and take the most egregious offenders to court—regardless of whether they’re protected by the Protection of Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA).
- In 2005, after extensive lobbying by the NRA, Congress passed the PLCAA, a dangerous law which prevents victims of gun violence from holding law-breaking gun manufacturers and dealers accountable.
- Harris believes gun makers and dealers that break federal, state, or local laws – including negligence laws and unfair trade practices laws the PLCAA was designed to undercut – should be held accountable. That’s exactly what she will do as president.
- If Congress fails to repeal the PLCAA within her first 100 days, Harris will act herself. Under our plan, any willful and serious violation of federal, state, or local law will lead to a license being revoked. This includes conduct the PLCAA often protects, such as violating negligence laws by selling a gun to a straw purchaser, violating public nuisance laws by supplying dealers that consistently sell guns used in crimes, or violating unfair business practices statutes by marketing assault weapons to children in video games.
- The most egregious actors won’t just have their license revoked, they will face criminal liability. It is a federal crime for gun makers and dealers to willfully violate federal, state, or local law, and Harris will hold them accountable if they endanger our kids and communities. While the PLCAA may prevent victims of gun violence from taking bad actors to court, it can’t stop the federal government.
- Under our plan, fines paid by law-breaking gun corporations – up to $500,000 for each violation – will be invested in expanding access to mental health treatment, trauma informed care, and community-based violence intervention programs.
Reverse President Trump’s dangerous change to the definition of “fugitive from justice,” which has allowed thousands of fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants to buy guns.
- In February 2017, the Trump Administration quietly narrowed the definition of “fugitive from justice” for purposes of determining when a person is prohibited from buying a gun. Now, a gun sale is not denied to a fugitive from justice unless it can be shown that individual fled a state “for the purpose” of avoiding charges. Proving a person’s state of mind is incredibly difficult, particularly given a background check must be completed within three days.
- The impact has been disastrous: In the year following the change, the number of gun sales blocked by the “fugitive from justice” prohibitor dropped by roughly 65%. That’s thousands of gun sales being approved to individuals with outstanding arrest warrants.
- Harris will reverse the change and take executive action to prevent those with outstanding arrest warrants from purchasing guns.
Close the “boyfriend loophole” to prevent dating partners convicted of domestic violence from purchasing guns.
- Women in the U.S. are 21 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. While federal law prohibits abusers convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors from purchasing guns, regulations applying this prohibition have gaping loopholes.
- For example, the prohibition does not always apply where an abuser is a dating partner. Yet, nearly half of all intimate partner homicides are committed by a dating partner and nearly 1 million women in the U.S. alive today have been shot, or shot at, by an intimate partner.
- People convicted of domestic abuse shouldn’t be able to buy guns just because they’re not married to the person they abused. Harris will take executive action to close the loophole.
Ban AR-15-style assault weapons from being imported into the United States.
- More than 4 million assault weapons have been imported into the U.S. from foreign countries.
- The Gun Control Act empowers the executive branch to prohibit the importation of guns not “suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes,” and it’s been done in a limited fashion by both Democratic and Republican presidents in the past. The AR-15 was designed to kill people on the battlefield. It was not designed for sporting. As president, Harris will ban AR-15-style assault weapon imports and suspend all other assault weapon imports until the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) conducts an analysis of whether their importation should be permanently banned under existing law.
This is just part of the gun safety agenda Harris will pursue as president. In addition to enacting universal background checks, renewing the assault weapons ban, and repealing the PLCAA, Harris will fight to make gun trafficking a federal crime, ban high capacity magazines, and prohibit those convicted of a federal hate crime from buying guns.