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
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.
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
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.
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]