Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota was the seventh candidate to participate in the 2020 Gun Safety Forum, hosted by Giffords, March For Our Lives, and MSNBC, in Las Vegas, Nevada. The forum includes nine major Democratic candidates to talk about what each presidential hopeful wants to do to reduce the epidemic of gun violence. For clarity: Sen. Bernie Sanders was scheduled to participate in the event but is unable to due to health issues.
Forum leaders include former Congressmember Gabrielle Giffords, Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, and Ariel Hobbs and David Hogg from March For Our Lives. MSNBC host Craig Melvin moderated the forum, which gives each candidate at least two questions from the audience and 25 minutes to talk overall.
Sen. Klobuchar opened by noting that if Donald Trump was sitting across from her right now, she would remind him that he’d promised universal background checks, but he “folded” after meeting with the NRA. She promised to not fold as president.
Melvin asked Klobuchar to elaborate on why the boyfriend loophole is so important to her. Klobuchar immediately referenced Giffords, then went back to her time as a prosecutor and how many domestic violence cases she saw in her office. She wrapped this up by connecting it all to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, whose desk the loophole bill is sitting on. She also brought up the universal background check and the Charleston bill, stressing the importance of all three.
Here’s the powerful clip of her pointing out (accurately) that “dangerous boyfriends are just as dangerous as dangerous husbands.”
“Domestic violence is a day-to-day crime we don’t always talk about,” said Klobuchar. “Domestic violence cases don’t get enough attention. if you think it’s just one victim, it’s not.”
After some audience applause, Melvin moved into universal background checks. He asked about the excuses people give about background checks not always stopping mass shootings.
Klobuchar immediately discounted that sort of excuse. She then invoked the parents of Sandy Hook victims who continued to advocate for laws that would save the most lives, even if they wouldn’t bring back their dead children.
From there, Melvin transitioned into school safety, but not before making a light joke about the age at which people can retire in Minnesota. Then he asked the senator about talking to kids about active shooter drills at schools.
“I wish we didn’t have to have the question, I wish we didn’t have to answer it,” Klobuchar stated. Her solution? Reduce gun violence. Which, while a universally agreeable answer, is pretty broad.
The first audience question for the senator came from Giffords member Jacob, who identifies as Latinx, about hate crimes and protections. Here’s a clip of his question:
Klobuchar acknowledged gun violence as domestic terrorism linked to hate crimes, as well as wanting to limit gun sales online. Klobuchar then shared a hilarious (and bizarre) story about going to the White House for the first time, which got a hearty reaction from Melvin and the audience. The point was her long-standing dedication to hate crime laws, going back decades at this point.
Klobuchar edged away from more progressive ideas, like limits on how many guns you can purchase per month, and instead turned answers to assault rifle bans. She also went back to her frequent example of asking herself, “Does this hurt my Uncle Dick in his deer stand?” when it comes to certain legislation.
The next question came from a mother who lost her son to gun violence recently. She asked Klobuchar what she would do to get assault weapons off the street. Klobuchar said she supports a ban, as all the major candidates do, and that she supports a buyback program of sorts. Her explanation of a buyback program seems to inch into the private sector, rather than a federally controlled one. At this point, she’s also vague about whether it’s mandatory.
Klobuchar then transitioned back to McConnell, saying she doesn’t know how he can talk to those impacted by gun violence (which, frankly, should baffle everyone). She added Trump into that scenario, too, saying that she wants to see those politicians talk to survivors.
Melvin then asked a clarifying question about the buyback program. Is it mandatory? In Klobuchar’s plan, nope. It’s a voluntary buyback program to start.
Klobuchar, like other candidates, gave a lot of credit to the Parkland “kids” for their incredible advocacy. She also stressed that when it comes to the public, she thinks they’re more likely to listen to survivors than a politician like herself.
Klobuchar’s plan, which she referenced in the forum, is called “More Than 100 Actions for Her First 100 Days as President.” It identifies gun violence as a public health issue, calls for better background checks, a ban on bump stocks and assault weapons, and calls to close what’s known as the “gun-show” loophole. She also calls for ending boyfriend loopholes.
However, perhaps unsurprisingly given the state she represents, Klobuchar isn’t all-in on gun reform. Her voting record shows that she’s been on the pro-gun side in the past, including when she voted to permit Amtrak passengers to be able to travel with guns in their luggage. She’s also promised that she wouldn’t take actions that would “hurt hunting,” which is where her Uncle Dick reference usually comes up.
Catch all of the recaps of the 2020 Gun Safety Forum:
South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg
Former HUD Secretary Julián Castro
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker
Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Former Vice President Joe Biden
Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke