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- 1CHANGE THE STANDARDS OF GUN OWNERSHIP
- Advocate and pass legislation to raise the national standard for gun ownership: a national licensing and registry system that promotes responsible gun ownership; a ban on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and other weapons of war; policies to disarm gun owners who pose a risk to themselves or others; and a national gun buy-back program to reduce the estimated 265-393 million firearms in circulation by at least 30%.
- 2HALVE THE RATE OF GUN DEATHS IN 10 YEARS
- Mobilize an urgent and comprehensive federal response: declare a national emergency around gun violence and announce an audacious goal to reduce gun injuries and deaths by 50% in 10 years, thereby saving up to 200,000 American lives.
- 3ACCOUNTABILITY FOR THE GUN LOBBY AND INDUSTRY
- Hold the gun lobby and industry accountable for decades of illegal behavior and misguided policies intended to shield only themselves; reexamine the District of Columbia v. Heller interpretation of the Second Amendment; initiate both FEC and IRS investigations into the NRA, and fully repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.
- 4NAME A DIRECTOR OF GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
- Appoint a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention (GVP) who reports directly to the President, with the mandate to operationalize our federal goals and empower existing federal agencies such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF), the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) – agencies that have all been structurally weakened by the gun lobby. The National Director of GVP would begin by overseeing a down payment of $250 million in annual funding for research by the CDC and other federal agencies on gun violence prevention.
- 5GENERATE COMMUNITY-BASED SOLUTIONS
- Fully fund targeted interventions addressing the intersectional dimensions of gun violence, including community-based urban violence reduction programs, suicide prevention programs, domestic violence prevention programs, mental and behavioral health service programs, and programs to address police violence in our communities.
- 6EMPOWER THE NEXT GENERATION
- Automatically register eligible voters and mail voter registration cards to all Americans when they turn 18. Create the “Safety Corps,” a Peace Corps for gun violence prevention. The younger generations are disproportionately affected by gun violence. They should have a say in how their country solves this epidemic.
- The key elements of a national gun and ammunition licensing system would include:
- A multi-step approval process, overseen by a law enforcement agency, that requires background checks, in-person interviews, personal references, rigorous gun safety training, and a waiting period of 10 days for each gun purchase. Licenses would be renewed every year upon successful completion of annually refreshed requirements in the above areas. In the process, a national registry of firearms sales would be created to make gun owners responsible for their weapons and hold them accountable when those weapons are used in a crime. Our licensing system would also include the ability to disarm individuals who become a danger to themselves or others.
- Annual licensing fees for anyone who wants to obtain a national gun and ammunition license. Gun violence has indirect and direct costs of hundreds of billions of dollars each year, and any responsible gun owner would pay into the national licensing system for the ability to possess and use firearms. In addition, we would impose higher fees on the bulk purchase of firearms and ammunition, which have been predicates to the misuse of firearms.
- A higher standard for gun ownership, which would start with raising the minimum age for gun possession to 21. In addition, we would expand prohibited categories for obtaining a gun license, with a focus on those with a propensity for violence. This would include: individuals with felony convictions, any level of domestic violence offenders (protective orders and misdemeanors), individuals with a documented history of violence, individuals convicted of hate crimes, individuals convicted of stalking, and individuals that make a credible and public threat against a specific person or institutions such as schools, churches, or workplaces.
- A limit of one firearm purchase per month.
- A prohibition on any and all online firearm and ammunition sales or transfers, including gun parts.
- A requirement to safely store firearms, including implementing national standards for locking devices on guns.
- A requirement to report guns that are lost or stolen to local law enforcement within 72 hours.
- National polling shows strong support for gun licensing, which is favored by 77% of Americans, including 68% of gun owners. The next President must make a robust gun licensing system the centerpiece of a federal legislative agenda. But a national licensing and registration system is insufficient to address all the faces of gun violence. In addition, the next President must advocate and pass:
- A federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. It’s simple: weapons of war that enable more casualties during mass shootings should not be allowed on our streets and in our communities. We’ve debated this for decades and it’s time to get it done.
- A federal policy to effectively disarm gun owners who have become a risk to themselves or others. For example, Extreme Risk Protection Order (ERPO) laws give families and law enforcement a civil remedy to disarm individuals who are a danger to themselves or others; a 2018 study found that a Connecticut law similar to ERPO was associated with a 14% reduction in suicides. We need a federal version of these policies – and we need to support states in training and implementation.
- A national gun buy-back and disposal program. There are an estimated 256-393 million civilian-owned firearms in the United States, which means there are more guns than people in the U.S. In order to operationalize new laws like an assault weapons ban and a higher standard of gun ownership, we need to implement a federal gun buy-back program that facilitates compliance with new laws and provides economic incentives for gun owners to responsibly reduce their gun inventory. All government-purchased gun inventory would be destroyed. The intended goal: a reduction of our domestic firearm stock by at least 30%. To be clear: the implementation of an assault weapons ban should be a full mandatory buy-back of assault weapons, but we would also create programs to encourage voluntary civilian reduction of handguns and other firearms. Evidence indicates that a national gun buy-back program can itself help reduce gun violence; in fact, Australia’s national gun buy-back program was associated with as much as a 57% reduction in firearms deaths.
- State authority beyond federal law. States and municipalities have long been our laboratories of democracy. Where federal policy is lacking or sits stalled in Congress, the next Administration needs to make it clear that states and municipalities are empowered to pass localized policies that go beyond federal law. States can also continue to lead with the above list of gun safety policies, much in the same way that states have led on other critical issues (like environmental law and policy) when the federal government has failed to act.
- The Second Amendment – we believe the next administration must commit to reexamining the District of Columbia v. Heller decision. Many distinguished jurists from across the political spectrum have excoriated the Heller decision as contrary to the historical record and the height of judicial activism. This controversial decision deserves a serious rethinking. We propose three paths to do this:
- Attorney general study on the Heller decision – during the George W. Bush Administration, Attorney General John Ashcroft asked the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel to study the constitutional basis for whether the Second Amendment guaranteed an individual right to own a firearm, a constitutional question that had been considered settled by the federal courts. Using academic research supported by the gun lobby, the Justice Department concluded that the Second Amendment secures an individual right to bear and keep arms, setting the foundation for the controversial 2008 District of Columbia v. Heller decision. We believe that it’s long past time for the Justice Department to reexamine the Heller decision.
- Federal judicial nominations – the next generation of federal judges appointed by the President need to be champions of gun violence prevention and a different interpretation of the Second Amendment. Working with us, other gun violence prevention groups, and legal scholars, the next Presidential transition must develop a slate of gun violence prevention champions for federal judicial nominations, modeled off the strategies of the Federalist Society.
- Supreme Court reform – finally, given the structural limitations of the U.S. Supreme Court, we stand with several presidential candidates, former Attorney General Eric Holder, and various democracy reform groups in recommending that we have a national conversation about strategies to ensure the Court’s independence from partisan political influence and interference.
- NRA investigations – the NRA is under serious scrutiny from multiple local, state, and federal entities for self-dealing and mismanagement. This should offend responsible NRA members and gun owners alike. On Day One, the next President must (1) direct the IRS to open an investigation into the tax-exempt nonprofit status of the NRA and (2) direct the FEC to open an investigation into whether the NRA has violated campaign finance laws.
- Gun industry accountability – the firearms industry needs to be better regulated. This begins with a much more muscular ATF. With increased funding, ATF must aggressively take enforcement action on the small minority of irresponsible gun dealers and manufacturers who are supplying the illegal market for gun crimes. We must also equip ATF with the tools to actually fight gun crimes, like enabling searchable gun records across the agency. In addition, we need federal policies that require anti-theft reporting and training to deter straw purchases and gun trafficking.
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