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.
Andrew Yang’s Record on Gun Safety
Because Andrew Yang is an entrepreneur who has never held elected office before, he has less of a legislative record on gun violence prevention than some of his fellow presidential candidates. But like almost all Americans, Yang is horrified by the gun violence crisis in our country. He hears the stories of those who have been caught up in the crisis and knows it could just as easily be him and his family.
2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang was moved to tears after this mother shared how gun violence took her 4-year-old’s life pic.twitter.com/Xd5F7NsHk5
— NowThis (@nowthisnews) August 11, 2019
Andrew Yang’s Plan to Address Gun Violence
Andrew Yang released a comprehensive gun safety plan several months ago. In the wake of shootings in El Paso and Dayton, he incorporated several aspects of this plan into a piece on combating gun violence and hate in America. Yang’s plan calls for universal background checks, closing the Charleston loophole, and a ban on high capacity magazines. We break down several of the other key elements below:
We need to license guns, implement universal background checks, and get assault weapons out of people’s hands. We are the only country in the world with this level of gun violence. We can do much better. https://t.co/IRum25HCpS pic.twitter.com/zha5x6eSLh
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) August 10, 2019
Invest in Gun Safety Technology
Each year, more than 8,300 children in the United States receive emergency room treatment for gun-related injuries, 39% of which are unintentional. Gun safety technology could prevent many of these tragic accidents and also stop stolen guns from being used in crime. Start-ups have already designed guns and locking devices that use technology like fingerprint scanners that allow only authorized to access weapons. Yang’s plan calls for investing in these lifesaving technologies so that they can become more widespread.
“If we can convince Americans that personalized guns are a good idea, then if a child gets ahold of a gun, they can’t do anything with it. It just becomes a very heavy, expensive prop.” August 11, 2019
Yang is one of several presidential candidates who has come out in favor of a licensing system for gun ownership. States that have enacted such a system have seen reductions in gun violence, and Yang wants to build on that success at the federal level.
One aspect of Yang’s licensing plan that differentiates him from other candidates is his requirement that license applicants provide a receipt for a gun locker or trigger locks. Similar to Yang’s proposal to invest in gun safety technology, this requirement is designed to encourage safe storage of firearms so that they cannot be accessed inadvertently by children or other unintended users.
We should treat owning a gun the same way we do driving a car. You take a test. You get a license. You lose your license if you do something suspect, like beating your wife, or you get flagged for criminality or mental illness. You lose your driver’s license for DUI. Same thing.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) September 20, 2018
Regulating Bulk Gun Purchases
Right now, if someone walks into a gun store in America and buys 100 assault rifles, no law enforcement agency is notified. Not the FBI, not ATF, and not the local police or sheriff department. The ability to easily buy multiple guns at the same time is a boon for firearms traffickers, who often make these purchases in states with weak gun laws and then resell them in states with strong gun laws.
To combat this dangerous trend, Yang is proposing we start regulating the number of guns that people are able to buy during a certain period of time. Limits on bulk purchases already exist at the state level and have been shown to be effective. After Virginia passed a one-gun-per-month law, for example, there was a significant drop in the number of crime guns recovered outside the state and traced back to Virginia dealers. Due to NRA lobbying however, that law has since been repealed.
“The NRA is making it impossible to pass any reasonable gun safety laws. Even though the vast majority of Americans support background checks, and red flag laws, and obvious safety measures.” August 8, 2019
Andrew Yang has made it clear that he is committed to solving our nation’s gun violence epidemic and that his loyalty lies with the people of the United States, not gun manufacturers and the NRA. Yang has urged the nation not to become numb to firearm tragedies, but rather to doggedly pursue the solutions that we know will save lives.
The vast majority of Americans agree on common sense gun regulations. We can move forward. We must move forward. The alternative is to become a country numb to periodic mass shootings. We must be better than that. We owe it to ourselves and our children.
— Andrew Yang (@AndrewYang) June 1, 2019
Andrew Yang’s interest in pursuing a gun licensing policy and gun safety technology indicate his willingness to take bold steps to tackle a crisis that claims nearly 40,000 American lives each year. As our current president waffles, obfuscates, and walks back his promises to the American people, Andrew Yang and the other 2020 Democratic candidates stand in stark contrast as leaders who are ready to take decisive action.