Background checks and bump stock bans: 2020 Democrats on gun control


(Reuters) – With more than 15,000 people killed by gun violence in the United States last year – not counting suicides – Democrats running for their party’s presidential nomination are pointing to inaction in Washington as evidence they should be chosen to run against Republican President Donald Trump.

Here is a look at gun control positions taken by Trump and the Democrats vying to unseat him.


In a speech shortly after two mass shootings last summer, Trump proposed tighter monitoring of the internet, mental health reform and wider use of the death penalty as a response to the shootings. He suggested he might support background checks for gun purchases.

But on Jan. 20, in advance of a Virginia rally by gun enthusiasts and militia members who oppose background checks for gun purchasers and other firearms restrictions that are being considered in the state, Trump criticized the reforms on Twitter.

“Your 2nd Amendment is under very serious attack in the Great Commonwealth of Virginia,” Trump wrote.


Biden, who served as vice president under Democratic President Barack Obama from 2009-2017, supports renewing an expired assault weapons ban imposed in the 1990s. He has also called for a federal gun buyback program to reduce the number of weapons on the street.

Like other Democratic candidates, Biden supports universal background checks for gun sales. He would ban those convicted of hate crimes from owning or buying guns.

In addition to more background checks, Biden advocates so-called “smart guns” that require owners’ biometrics to pull the trigger.


Sanders, a U.S. senator from Vermont, supports universal background checks, a ban on the sale and distribution of assault weapons, a crackdown on straw purchases of guns for criminals, and the prohibition of high-capacity ammunition magazines.

He also supports so-called red flag laws, under which a court could take away guns from people deemed by a judge to be likely to hurt others with firearms, including stalkers and those accused of domestic abuse. He would ban the 3-D printing of firearms and bump stocks, which speed up the firing of semi-automatic weapons.

Sanders has called on the Republican-controlled Senate to vote on a bill requiring a background check on every gun sale and transfer, which passed the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last year.


Warren, a U.S. senator from Massachusetts, has promised to send comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation to Congress within her first 100 days in office. She backs requiring universal background checks for gun purchasers, reporting mass purchases of firearms and raising the minimum age to own a gun to 18.

She says she would investigate the finances of the powerful gun rights lobbying organization, the National Rifle Association, and revoke licenses for gun dealers who make sales that do not comply with federal laws. She would expand rules meant to prevent gun violence by those suspected of domestic abuse.

Warren supports reinstating the federal assault weapons ban and creating a federal licensing system that requires gun owners to register their firearms.


The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttigieg supports universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and red flag laws that disarm domestic abusers and others ruled by a judge to be at high risk of harming others with a gun.

Buttigieg would require people to notify law enforcement if their guns are lost or stolen. Like several of his rivals, Buttigieg supports giving the FBI longer than the current three days to conduct a background check. He would close the “boyfriend loophole” by expanding a law restricting gun purchases by perpetrators of spousal abuse and would prohibit guns made without serial numbers or on 3D printers.


Klobuchar, a U.S. senator from Minnesota, backs universal background checks, banning bump stocks that allow weapons to fire 700 rounds per minute and banning high-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds of ammunition.

She would fight for an assault weapons ban while more immediately raising the minimum age to buy such weapons from 18 to 21. She would prevent people with severe mental illness from acquiring guns and establish a waiting period for sales of handguns and assault rifles. She would prohibit the online publication of computer codes used for 3-D printing of firearms.

She authored legislation, stalled in the Republican-controlled Senate, to close the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”


The billionaire former mayor of New York has long backed stricter firearms laws, co-founding or championing gun control groups, including Mayors Against Illegal Guns, Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety. He spent $110 million backing gun safety candidates in the 2018 election cycle, his campaign website says.

Bloomberg backs universal background checks, reinstating the federal assault weapons ban and prohibiting the sale of high-capacity magazines. He would raise the age to legally purchase handguns and semi-automatic weapons to 21 and temporarily ban gun possession by people convicted of assault and other violent crimes.

He would ban all guns at schools, colleges and universities except for those used by law enforcement. He would also extend beyond spouses a law meant to protect victims of domestic abuse.


Yang, a businessman, has backed comprehensive gun control measures including an assault weapon ban and prohibiting high-capacity magazines.

He supports creating a tax credit to incentivize upgrading guns to use technology, like biological indicators, to unlock the firearm.

Yang believes the use of guns to commit suicide is also an issue to be addressed.


The billionaire progressive activist and former hedge fund manager from San Francisco supports universal background checks, waiting periods for gun purchases, and bans on assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks.

He supports laws that allow courts to temporarily prohibit people likely to threaten others with guns from owning them.

Steyer calls for new laws closing loopholes in laws meant to prevent stalkers and domestic abusers from gaining access to guns. He says he would work with states to establish “high standards” for those seeking permission to carry concealed weapons in public.

Steyer would also ban the use of 3-D printers to make homemade guns.

Reporting by Sharon Bernstein and Ginger Gibson; Additional reporting by John Whitesides; Editing by Soyoung Kim and Jonathan Oatis