Violence and Gun Safety

Q34: Do you support background checks for all gun purchasers at gun shows? 

Clinton: “It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of all gun purchases in American are conducted with no background check because federal law does not cover certain sales — like those that occur at gun shows. Yet 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks because they work.  Since President Clinton signed the Brady background check bill into law, more than 2.1 million illegal gun purchases have been blocked.  That is why I support expanding background check for all gun purchasers at gun shows,

Laws prohibiting dangerous individuals from buying guns are only as effective as our background check system is comprehensive. Background checks reduce gun trafficking, reduce the lethality of domestic violence, and reduce unlawful gun transfers to dangerous individuals. It is reprehensible that bipartisan legislation supporting background checks failed in Congress after the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But I will not give up—I will continue to fight for legislation to build on the Brady bill’s success. And if Congress refuses to act, I will take administrative action to require that any person attempting to sell a significant number of guns be deemed “in the business” of selling firearms. This would ensure that high-volume gun sellers, including those at gun shows, are covered by the same common sense rules that apply to gun stores—including requiring background checks on gun sales.”

Sanders: Yes. “Like the rest of the nation, I am appalled by gun violence in our country and the mass shootings in our churches and colleges. In my view, there are very concrete steps we can take to lessen the number of tragedies and to make those that happen less lethal, including ideas supported by a majority of gun owners. This includes closing the gun-show loophole, which allows unlicensed dealers to sell guns to people who otherwise would not be able to get them.”

Bush:  N/A.

Carson: “I am a strong believer in our 2d Amendment rights, and am not in favor of increased gun control laws at this time.”

Q35: Do you support expanding federal policy to prevent gun sales to persons with mental illness or criminal history?

Clinton:  “I lived in Arkansas and I represented Upstate New York, so I know that gun ownership is part of the fabric of a lot of law-abiding communities.  But I also know that we can have common sense reforms that keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the violently unstable, while respecting responsible gun owners.

This problem is particularly vexing for women.  Women in the U.S. are 11 times more likely to be murdered with guns than women in other high-income countries. These homicides are driven largely by the presence of guns in domestic violence situations.  When a gun is present in a domestic violence situation, it increases the risk of homicide for women by 500 percent.  Black women in particular feel the impact of this violence.  According to the Violence Policy Center in 2012 Black women were killed by men at a rate nearly two and half times higher than the rate at which white women were killed.  Firearms were the most commonly used weapons to murder Black women and the majority of victims were killed by an intimate partner.  However, under federal law, only some abusers and stalkers are prohibited from purchasing or possessing guns.

That must charge, and it is why I support legislation to prohibit all domestic abusers from buying and possessing guns. While federal law generally prohibits domestic abusers from purchasing or possessing guns, this protection does not apply to people in dating relationships or convicted stalkers. I will fight for legislation to prohibit all of these domestic abusers and stalkers from buying guns. I will also work to improve existing laws prohibiting persons suffering from severe mental illness from purchasing or possessing a gun. During this campaign, I have called on the ATF to immediately finalize its rule making to close loopholes in our laws and clarify that people involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment, such as the Virginia Tech shooter, are prohibited from buying guns.”


Bush:  N/A.

Carson: “It is more important to enforce existing laws that promote responsible gun sales and gun ownership rather than creating new laws.”

Q36: Do you support bans on high velocity semi-automatic weapons?

Clinton:  “It has been more than a decade since the federal assault weapons ban signed into law by President Clinton expired. As a Senator, I cosponsored and voted for legislation to extend and reinstate the assault weapons ban. Military-style assault weapons do not belong on our streets. They are a danger to law enforcement and to our communities. That is why I support a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.”

Sanders: Yes. “We must ban semi-automatic assault weapons which are designed strictly for killing human beings. When running for office, I supported banning semi-automatic assault weapons. While in Congress, I supported efforts to ban the sale and purchase of semi-automatic assault weapons. As President, I would work to have the ban reinstated.”

Bush: N/A.