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Countdown to 2020: Pete Buttigieg on Gun Safety

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In 2018, voters elected a wave of candidates who prioritized gun safety like never before. No longer a third rail of politics, gun violence prevention is now a top issue heading into the 2020 presidential election. In this regular series, we delve into the gun safety platforms of Democratic presidential candidates who have released initial policy plans to address this issue. While not an endorsement of any candidate or their platform, each post looks at a candidate’s record, explains their proposals, and shares our analysis.

Pete Buttigieg’s Record on Gun Safety

Pete Buttigieg understands firearms and their responsible use. As an Indiana native and Navy veteran, he has been around guns his entire life. Buttigieg was a junior in high school when two students killed 13 people at Columbine High School. He came of age at the beginning of the school shooting era, when far too many of our elected leaders offered thoughts and prayers rather than legislative solutions in the wake of these tragedies.

As mayor of South Bend, Buttigieg has seen the terrible toll that community gun violence can have on a city. Just a few weeks ago, one person was killed and 10 were injured in a shooting in South Bend that didn’t even make national headlines. Buttigieg has worked to expand group violence intervention strategies that have been shown to reduce homicides in cities around the country.

“It’s the worst part of being mayor. Getting the phone call. Consoling the grieving parents. And we have a mass shooting’s worth of killings every day in this country.” July 30, 2019

Pete Buttigieg’s Plan to Address Gun Violence

In the wake of last weekend’s tragic shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Pete Buttigieg released a comprehensive plan to reduce gun violence. Like the vast majority of Americans, Mayor Pete supports passing universal background checks, closing the boyfriend loophole, and enacting extreme risk protection orders. We break down a few other key elements of his plan below.

Disarming Hate

Saturday’s shooting in El Paso, in which 22 were killed and more than 20 were injured at a Walmart, was the most recent manifestation of a surge of violence specifically targeting minority communities. Buttigieg knows that we need to keep firearms out of the hands of hate-filled individuals if we’re serious about stopping these shootings. His plan calls for Congress to pass the Disarm Hate Act, which would prohibit people who have been convicted of a hate crime involving the use of violence from accessing firearms. This is a vitally important step to curbing our country’s firearm epidemic—people who have a prior conviction for a violent misdemeanor are nine times as likely to commit subsequent firearm offenses.

Funding Gun Violence Research

From cancer to car crashes, the federal government plays a unique role in studying major public health problems in America, and then using the findings of this research to take action to save lives. Yet federal investment in gun violence research has remained virtually absent over the last two decades, despite the fact that the number of gun deaths has risen to a 40-year high. The House has already taken action to dedicate $50 million for funding research into gun violence, and Buttigieg is calling on the Senate to follow its lead.

“When someone wants to make it illegal to research something, you’ve got to wonder what they’re worried we might find.” August 5, 2019

National Licensing

Buttigieg is one of several candidates running for president to call for a national gun licensing system, a policy which is supported by more than three in four Americans. Buttigieg’s reasoning is simple: if you need a license to drive a car, you should need a license to operate a firearm. This logic is backed by data: studies show that licensing laws have been effective at reducing gun homicide and suicides in the states that have them.

Our Take

President Trump has repeatedly failed to take action in the wake of tragedy, a pattern he is upholding in the wake of two devastating mass shootings in the space of 24 hours. It couldn’t be any clearer how urgently we need someone in the White House who takes our gun violence crisis seriously. Pete Buttigieg has demonstrated that he understands that Second Amendment rights are entirely compatible with gun safety laws. Buttigieg is deeply familiar with weapons of war, having carried them himself when he served in the military, and knows they have no place on our streets.

“After foreign terrorist attacks, airport travelers have to take off their shoes. After three mass shootings in a single week, Congress takes off for recess.” August 5, 2019

Buttigieg’s comprehensive plan demonstrates his commitment to taking bold steps to tackle gun violence. He isn’t afraid to stand up to the gun lobby, or to call out the fact that mental illness and video games aren’t to blame for this crisis. We need a president who will take decisive action to keep guns out of the hands who shouldn’t have them. Pete Buttigieg has demonstrated that he’s up for the challenge.