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Kamala Harris, other 2020 Democrats promise new gun controls. How far can they go? (VIDEO)

SACRMENTO BEE.COM MAY 21, 2019 - California Sen. Kamala Harris and other Democrats running for president have promised aggressive action to stem the nation’s epidemic of gun violence if they win the White House in 2020. But when it comes to restricting gun access, experts say executive action is unlikely to make a significant dent in the problem, and any steps the president takes unilaterally are likely to be embroiled in legal challenges.

The reality is it’s Congress — not the president — that holds most of the power on gun policy. The executive branch has “limited discretion” on guns, University of California, Los Angeles Law Professor Adam Winkler told McClatchy.

Former Democratic President Barack Obama “looked at all these things and had a list of 20 executive actions. Even with 20 executive actions, it didn’t add up to much,” said Winkler, an expert in constitutional law. “The real takeaway of these campaign promises is how gun control has surged ... as a way to energize Democratic voters.”

While Democrats even a decade ago mostly avoided talking about guns, fearing it could alienate swing voters, the party’s 2020 presidential candidates are making a different calculation. Most in the primary field have unveiled proposals to tighten restrictions on guns or made promises to do so on the campaign trail. The latest: former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, who penned an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle over the weekend laying out his four-point plan to stop gun violence.

The candidates tend to downplay how much they would rely on Congress to achieve their goals.

For example, much of New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker’s expansive 2020 gun agenda — including the centerpiece, a universal federal gun licensing system — would require Congress to pass new legislation. South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg also recently endorsed the idea. Banning the sale of so-called assault weapons also would require a new law. Harris, Booker, O’Rourke and Buttigieg have all promised to pursue that goal, as have many other 2020 candidates.

Betting that Republicans in Congress will block any gun action, Harris’ campaign has zeroed in on gray areas in existing gun laws that her advisers believe permit the president to tighten restrictions. “If Congress is not going to act, and we have no indication that they will, we’re going to use absolutely everything in our authority to do as much as we can to fight back,” said Harris campaign spokeswoman Kirsten Allen. [Read More]

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Commentary/Analysis

An Exercise in Self-Indulgence

Media's Passion Isn't Reporting. It's Making Itself Look Bad

Shelby Murdoc

We’ve all become accustomed to the non-stop news coverage that gun crime generates, particularly if it’s at a school. Endless emotional sensationalism interspersed with tidbits about all the blood on the hands of the National Rifle Association is the norm these days. This deluge by the professionals is quickly followed up by polemics, rants, and memes on social media generated by the members of the gun-grabbing movement. It’s a free country, but the typical response looks more and more orchestrated every time it’s rolled out for public consumption. Until now.

Two attackers opened fire at a STEM school in Highlands Ranch near Denver, Colorado. One student was killed and eight others were wounded. But, despite the understandably high level of sensitivity to school shootings in today’s society, the news media has been relatively quiet about this incident following the initial flurry of early reporting and the legion of anti-gun online voices have been mostly restrained.

There are a number of possible explanations for this comparative silence, but, whatever the reason, we are seeing a media that is exercising self-restraint on a story that they normally would be working overtime to hype into the stratosphere.

This is a noteworthy point, because many have been wondering how much the endless news coverage does to encourage additional violence. This very column, in fact, has suggested that a moratorium on gun crime reporting might do more to curb violent crime than all the gun control liberals can imagine. The response to such suggestions is usually along the lines of “reporting every detail of this horrible incident is the responsibility of journalism” and that restrictions on that reporting are an infringement upon the freedom of the press.  [Read More]

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