AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren says she has a plan to reduce gun-related deaths by 80% in the United States, but in order to pass it, she wants to nuke the filibuster rule that, in essence, requires bills have the votes of 60 Senators. With the filibuster gone, a simple majority of 51 could pass any law they wanted, and Elizabeth Warren wants a LOT of new gun control laws.
- Creating a federal licensing system. States with strict licensing requirements experience lower rates of gun trafficking and violence. A license is required to drive a car, and Congress should establish a similarly straightforward federal licensing system for the purchase of any type of firearm or ammunition.
- Requiring universal background checks. I’ll expand background checks via executive action — but Congress should act to permanently mandate universal background checks. And I’ll push Congress to close the so-called “Charleston loophole” that allows a sale to proceed after three days even if the background check is not complete.
- Increasing taxes on gun manufacturers. Since 1919, the federal government has imposed an excise tax on manufacturers and importers of guns and ammunition. Handguns are taxed at 10% and other guns and ammunition are taxed at 11%. These taxes raise less in revenue than the federal excise tax on cigarettes, domestic wine, or even airline tickets. It’s time for Congress to raise those rates — to 30% on guns and 50% on ammunition — both to reduce new gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we can use for gun violence prevention and enforcement of existing gun laws.
- Establishing a real waiting period. Waiting periods prevent impulsive gun violence, reducing gun suicides by 7–11% and gun homicides by 17%. Over the past 5 years, a national handgun waiting period would have stopped at least 4,550 gun deaths. The federal government should establish a one-week waiting period for all firearm purchases.
- Capping firearms purchases. About one out of four of firearms recovered at the scene of a crime were part of a bulk purchase. Congress should limit the number of guns that can be purchased to one per month, similar to a Virginia law that successfully reduced the likelihood of Virginia-bought guns being used in criminal activity.
- Creating a new federal anti-trafficking law. Congress should make clear that trafficking firearms or engaging in “straw purchases” — when an individual buys a gun on behalf of a prohibited purchaser — are federal crimes. This would give law enforcement new tools to crack down on gun trafficking and help keep guns out of the wrong hands.
- Raising the minimum age for gun purchases. I’ll extend existing age requirements to virtually all sales, but federal law is currently conflicting — for example, a person must be 21 to purchase a handgun from a federally licensed dealer, but only 18 to purchase a rifle. Congress should set the federal minimum age at 21 for all gun sales.
We’ve previously pointed out here that gun licensing reduces gun ownership, and the more bureaucracy you have to navigate to exercise your constitutional rights, the fewer Americans will bother. We’ve also noted that “universal background checks” are unenforceable without gun registration as well.
Warren wants to raise the taxes on guns and ammunition, because making it too expensive for people to exercise a constitutional right will also reduce legal gun ownership. Gun rationing (limiting the purchase of a firearm to one per month) will impact law-abiding citizens far more than it will impact criminals, most of whom get their firearms from family or friends, through theft, or on the black market. And raising the age to purchase a firearm to 21 would prevent many young adults from exercising their 2nd Amendment rights.
But that’s not all, folks.
- Passing a new federal assault weapons ban. The 1994 federal assault weapons ban successfully reduced gun deaths but was allowed to expire ten years later. Congress should again ban the future production, sale, and importation of military-style assault weapons, and require individuals already in possession of assault weapons to register them under the National Firearms Act. Just as we did successfully with machine guns after the passage of that law, we should establish a buyback program to allow those who wish to do so to return their weapon for safe disposal, and individuals who fail to register or return their assault weapon should face penalties.
- Banning high-capacity ammunition magazines. High-capacity magazines were used in 57% of mass shootings from 2009 to 2015, allowing the shooters to target large numbers of people without stopping to reload. Congress should enact a federal ban on large-capacity magazines for all firearms, setting reasonable limits on the lethality of these weapons.
- Prohibiting accessories that make weapons more deadly. Gun manufacturers sell increasingly deadly gun accessories, including silencers, trigger cranks, and other mechanisms that increase the rate of fire or make semi-automatic weapons fully automatic. Congress should ban these dangerous accessories entirely.
First off, the Clinton Gun Ban wasn’t effective. Even the Justice Department acknowledged this back in 2004 when the first AWB was sunsetting. Now, Warren wants to require existing owner to register their semi-automatic rifles under the NFA, pay a $200 fee per firearm to continue to own them, or turn them in for some unknown amount of cash. If not, you’ll face “penalties”? What kind of penalty? Warren doesn’t say. Weird how that little detail escaped her, isn’t it?
Next up, a ban on magazines beyond a certain size (again, Warren doesn’t say what her magic number would be), suppressors, and anything else she thinks makes guns “more dangerous”.
And we’re not done yet.
- Passing extreme risk protection laws. Extreme risk protection orders allow families and law enforcement to petition to temporarily restrict access to firearms for individuals in crisis or at elevated risk of harming themselves or others. Congress should pass a federal extreme risk law and create a grant system to incentivize states to enact their own laws that clearly define extreme risk.
- Prohibiting anyone convicted of a hate crime from owning a gun. Too often, guns are used in acts of mass violence intended to provoke fear in minority communities; more than 10,000 hate crimes involve a gun every year. Any individual convicted of a hate crime should be permanently prohibited from owning a gun, full stop.
- Protecting survivors of domestic abuse. Domestic violence and gun violence are deeply connected — in an average month, more than 50 women are shot and killed by an intimate partner. I’ll close the boyfriend loophole, but Congress should make that permanent, and expand the law to include individuals with restraining orders or who have been convicted of stalking.
- Securing our schools. Parents shouldn’t have to buy bullet-proof backpacks for their children — guns have no place on our campuses or in our schools. Congress should improve the Gun-Free School Zones Act to include college and university campuses, and apply to individuals licensed by a state or locality to carry a firearm.
“Red Flag” laws come with their own set of problems, including due process concerns, a lack of mental health treatment, and a focus on the gun instead of the person deemed to be “dangerous”. Expanding the number of prohibited persons by making misdemeanor offenses a disqualifying factor to own firearms is also dangerous in my opinion. Felons are already prohibited from owning a firearm or even a round of ammunition, so what Warren is talking about here is lowering the bar to prohibit gun possession. Her idea to make anyone who’s the subject of a restraining order a prohibited person for life is absolutely absurd. It’s common, for instance, during divorce proceedings for both sides to file restraining orders against their soon-to-be ex. And as someone who’s had a stalker in the past, the bigger issue is actually prosecuting them in the first place.
Warren’s push to declare college and university campuses “gun free zones” would gut campus carry in states like Colorado, Texas, Utah, and others that allow for lawful gun owners and those who possess a concealed carry license to carry while on campus.
And she’s still not done yet.
- Repealing the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Nearly every other industry has civil liability as a check on irresponsible actions, but a 2005 law insulates firearms and dealers from civil liability when a weapon is used to commit a crime, even in cases when dealers were shockingly irresponsible. No one should be above the law, and that includes the gun industry. Congress should repeal this law, immediately.
- Holding gun manufacturers strictly liable for the harm they cause through a federal private right of action. Gun manufacturers make billions in profit by knowingly selling deadly products. Then they are let completely off the hook when people take those deadly products and inflict harm on thousands of victims each year. State tort law already recognizes that certain types of products and activities are so abnormally dangerous that the entities responsible for them should be held strictly liable when people are injured. Congress should codify that same principle at the federal level for guns by creating a new private right of action allowing survivors of gun violence to hold the manufacturer of the weapon that harmed them strictly liable forcompensatory damages to the victim or their family.
- Strengthening ATF. The NRA has long sought to hobble the ATF, lobbying against staffing and funding increases for the agency and getting its congressional allies to impose absurd restrictions on its work even as the agency struggled to meet its basic responsibilities. Congress should fully fund ATF’s regulatory and compliance programs and remove the riders and restrictions that prevent it from doing its job.
- Regulating firearms for consumer safety. Today there are no federal safety standards for firearms produced in the United States. We can recall unsafe products from trampolines to children’s pajamas — but not defective guns. Congress should repeal the provision of law that prevents the Consumer Product Safety Commission from regulating the safety of firearms and their accessories.
- Tightening oversight for gun dealers. Today there is no requirement for federally-licensed gun shops to take even simple steps to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands. Congress should pass basic safety standards for federally-licensed gun dealers, including employee background checks, locked cabinets, and up-to-date inventories of the weapons they have in stock.
- Holding gun industry CEOs personally accountable. I’ve proposed a law that would impose criminal liability and jail time for corporate executives when their company is found guilty of a crime or their negligence causes severe harm to American families — and that includes gun industry CEOs.
Basically, let’s make it so legally dangerous to own a gun store or a firearms manufacturing business that companies will either be sued out of existence when a criminal uses a firearm in a crime. No gun stores and no gun companies means a lot fewer legal gun owners, right?
It’s no wonder Warren says she’ll need to nuke the filibuster to get these bills through Congress. But Warren says as president, she won’t just rely on Congress. She’ll abuse executive actions as well.
- Requiring background checks. We will bring the vast majority of private sales, including at gun shows and online, under the existing background check umbrella.
- Reporting on multiple purchases. We will extend the existing requirement to report bulk sales to nearly all gun sales. And I’ll extend existing reporting requirements on the mass purchase of certain rifles from the southwestern border states to all 50 states.
- Raising the minimum age. We will expand the number of sales covered by existing age restriction provisions that require the purchaser to be at least 18 years old, keeping guns out of the hands of more teenagers.
Essentially, Warren has adopted virtually every gun control proposal that’s been introduced in the past decade with the exception of “microstamping” and “smart gun” laws, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see her amend her gun control plan to include those ideas as well.
You can’t help but notice that Warren’s plans (with the exception of her call for a federal gun trafficking statute) are all directed at legal gun owners, legal gun sellers, and legal gun manufacturers. There’s nothing in her plan about helping communities target the most violent offenders, or reducing the number of plea bargains offered to individuals who use firearms in the commission of a violent crime. It’s clear that Elizabeth Warren believes, as so many anti-gun politicians do, that the way to address violent crime is to keep as many Americans as possible away from their constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms.