Former Vice President Joe Biden was the fifth 2020 presidential hopeful to participate in the 2020 Gun Safety Forum in Las Vegas, Nevada. The forum, hosted by Giffords, March For Our Lives, and MSNBC, includes nine major Democratic candidates to talk about what each presidential hopeful wants to do to reduce the epidemic of gun violence. (Sen. Bernie Sanders was scheduled to participate but was unable to due to health issues.)
Forum leaders include former Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Ariel Hobbs and David Hogg from March For Our Lives. The moderator was Craig Melvin of MSNBC.
Melvin first asked Biden about the fiasco with Donald Trump, which Biden handled well by basically wishing Trump “good luck,” with his signature sarcasm. The host pressed Biden on whether he’s communicated with his son about Trump’s allegations, which Biden brushed off with a joke about Trump and Rudy.
Then the host moved into questions on guns. Melvin’s first question probed Biden on why working with Republicans is no longer possible, contrary to what Biden has suggested in the past.
“We have a president named Trump,” Biden said in response. “Two things: If we were immediately going to go out and repeal the protection we’ve given gun manufacturers like we’ve given nobody else, we’d see things change overnight. Number two, we should be in a position where … we have the technology to make sure that no one can fire a weapon without their biometric marker on it,” he continued. He promised to talk to gun manufacturers and urge them to add this biometric to guns.
Biden addressed the audience, and acknowledged that many in the audience lost someone in the Las Vegas massacre two years ago. “This has gone from a cause to a movement,” Biden said in reference to gun reform. Then he stressed that, almost certainly without a doubt, nothing will change until Trump is out of office.
Melvin moved into Biden’s recently released plan (embellished upon below) and questioned the differences between Biden and Sen. Cory Booker’s ideas on gun licensing. “You don’t need a federal license to drive a car,” Biden said in response to Booker’s frequent license example. He then stressed that people should be held liable if their guns are used by someone else, even if they were accidentally used or stolen.
From there, Melvin and Biden discussed Newtown. Biden talked about meeting with families after the Newtown massacre, and how at the government level, Democrats lost the House. Then, executive orders that were doing good, in Biden's words, were at risk of being wiped out by someone like Trump. He summed up his answer by talking about how critics said he and former President Barack Obama couldn't get Obamacare passed, but how it became a movement and it has stayed. Basically: Gun reform has become the same sort of movement as health care for all. Biden, like nearly every other candidate, talked about PTSD, gun violence, and mental health services for veterans and in schools.
The first question came from a gun violence survivor who shared that he was shot and paralyzed at the age of 18, and mentioned those friends he’s lost to gun violence. His peer, also a gun reform advocate, asked what Biden’s plan is to “reduce gun violence in inner cities,” and suggested economic justice, such as reparations.
Biden stressed that he wants to invest $900 million in eight years' time on programs to figure out how to help cities with the highest rates of gun violence. He talked about wanting more psychologists, nurses, and social workers in schools to help identify trauma and problems in schools. He also talked about “good and bad” cops … as well as lawyers and doctors. Which is … a lacking way to address police brutality. Biden continued by stressing the importance of “evidence-based data.”
The next question came from none other than Giffords herself. “How do you talk about gun violence at your kitchen table?” she asked. To which Biden mentioned—for the sake of transparency—being friends with and wanting her husband, astronaut Mark Kelly, to run for office, before getting into his answer. Here’s that clip, which people are loving:
Biden answered her question by explaining how he talks to his grandchildren. He stressed that the kitchen table conversations should encourage kids to discuss taking action on gun reform when talking to teachers and the parents of other kids. “If you see something, say something,” he also advised to say at the kitchen table.
Former Vice President Biden’s plan, which he just released today, would cover a lot of important issues. For example, Biden would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and related magazines. People who own these weapons would have two options: sell them to the government or register them under the National Firearms Act. However, this plan does not include a mandatory buyback program, which is why it’s more moderate than others in the race, like Beto O’Rourke and Cory Booker, have called for.
Biden’s plan also aims to end the sale of guns online, and close loopholes like the “boyfriend” and “hate crime” gaps in the current federal background check system. There would be universal background checks for every single gun sale, minus the ones listed as “gifts” between family members, which would theoretically be rare.
His plan also aims to prohibit any federal funding from going to training and arming teachers to use guns in school, which directly contradicts an idea Donald Trump floated earlier this year. He wants to see more urban intervention programs to combat what is described as daily gun violence, as opposed to focusing on just mass shootings, as he mentioned in an audience answer.
Ultimately, Biden’s plan doesn’t go as far as others in the running, like Booker and O’Rourke. But if enacted, it would still foster massive and important progress. And, like Pete Buttigieg’s plan, it’s still miles and miles ahead of conservatives’.
You can check out coverage on each candidate at the links: Mayor Pete Buttigieg, Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, Sen. Cory Booker, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.