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Where Presidential Candidates Stand on Guns - "Sunday Political Brunch" - August 18, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – With three recent mass shootings in the United States, the presidential candidates are espousing their positions on gun rights and proposed gun laws. I thought what I would do this week, is pull their stances on gun issues from their websites, and post in their own words with no editing by me. I can’t do all of them, so my benchmark was picking the top ten candidates based on the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

Joe Biden – “In the months ahead, Biden will also detail his plan to tackle the public health epidemic of gun violence in America, starting with universal background checks and bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Biden’s plan to reduce gun violence will address not only mass shootings but also daily acts of gun violence.”

Elizabeth Warren – “The majority of Americans, including a majority of gun owners, support common sense gun safety reforms. But for years, those reforms have been blocked by far-right ideologues in Congress bought and paid for by the gun industry and their NRA partners. Enough is enough. My plan to reduce gun violence includes ambitious executive actions and comprehensive legislation to break the influence of the gun lobby and implement real reform that will save lives.”

Bernie Sanders – “Expand background checks. End the gun show loophole. All gun purchases should be subject to the same background check standards. Ban the sale and distribution of assault weapons. Assault weapons are designed and sold as tools of war. There is absolutely no reason why these firearms should be sold to civilians. Prohibit high-capacity ammunition magazines. Crack down on “straw purchases” where people buy guns for criminals.”
Kamala Harris – ”If Congress fails to send comprehensive gun safety legislation to Kamala’s desk within her first 100 days as president – including universal background checks, an assault weapons ban, and the repeal of the NRA’s corporate gun manufacturer immunity shield – she will take executive action to keep our kids and communities safe.”

Pete Buttigieg – “Make background checks universal and close the loopholes that allow dangerous individuals to acquire and keep guns. After each new mass shooting, it has become routine to learn that the perpetrator acquired their guns legally. Current federal law only requires licensed gun dealers to conduct background checks on gun sales, allowing too many people who are banned from having guns to acquire them anyway. This loophole and others that allow dangerous individuals to obtain guns have to be closed.”
Beto O’Rourke – “Beto believes everyone should have to undergo a background check before purchasing a gun. As president, Beto will: Implement Universal Background Checks, which the vast majority of Americans support—and which have been proven to reduce gun violence. Beto believes people who have exhibited a tendency to harm themselves or others shouldn’t have access to firearms. As president, Beto will: Enact Red Flag Laws, also referred to as Extreme Risk Protection Orders, which allow police officers to prevent people who have exhibited a tendency to harm themselves or others from keeping their weapons.”
Cory Booker – “As president, Cory will pursue the most sweeping gun violence prevention plan in history: Take on the NRA and the corporate gun lobby; Keep guns out of the wrong hands with gun licensing; Pass universal background checks, ban assault weapons, and close the loopholes that allow people who should never have a gun to get one; Bring real regulation and oversight to gun manufacturers End legal immunity that prevents victims of gun violence from seeking justice; Require handgun microstamping; Close the “Charleston Loophole” and the “Boyfriend Loophole”; Ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks; Limit gun buyers to one handgun per month.”
Andrew Yang – “Responsible gun owners should continue to enjoy the right to bear arms, subject to licensing and education requirements that will enhance public safety. But we need to ban the most dangerous weapons that make mass shootings as deadly as they have become, and address the other violence – particularly suicide – that is plaguing this country.”

Tulsi Gabbard – “Both Democrats and Republicans support legislation I have co-sponsored to ban bump stocks. Both Democrats and Republicans support legislation to uphold Second Amendment rights and strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System. Now is the time for us to come together and to take meaningful action towards responsible, common sense gun safety reform… pass legislation already supported by a majority of Americans, like universal background checks, closing the gun show loophole and reinstating a federal ban on military-style assault weapons.”

Amy Klobuchar – “Amy supports a package of gun violence policies including instituting universal background checks by closing the gun show loophole and banning bump stocks, high capacity ammunition feeding devices and assault weapons. She is also the author of a proposal that would close what is commonly referred to as the ‘boyfriend loophole’ by preventing people who have abused dating partners from buying or owning firearms.”

“Why All of This Matters” – With three mass shooting in recent weeks, this gun issue is front and center on the presidential campaign trail and in the debates. Some of the positions here are vague generalities and platitudes, and some are very specific policy proposals. Websites are easy to edit and update. You get the sense that some of these candidates have updated their positions given recent events, but others have not. Voters can read and judge for themselves.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states and most of the Washington, D.C. media market, He is a National Contributing Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

To Iowa, and Beyond! On the Presidential Campaign Trail – “Sunday Political Brunch” - August 11, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Our State Fair is now underway here in the Mountain State of West Virginia, but our friends in Iowa also have the same State Fair dates. Because of the “first in the nation” caucuses in the Hawkeye State, there will be 20-plus Democratic candidates kissing pigs, and eating deep-fried Twinkies, all to secure caucus votes next year. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The National Trend” – According to the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll, Joe Biden leads with 31-percent, with Bernie Sanders at 15.8-percent, although both men are down slightly after this week. Elizabeth Warren has risen to 15.5-percent and is trending up. Kamala Harris is in fourth place at 8.3-percent, taking a dive after a rough second debate performance. Beto O’Rourke is not moving the needle much at 5.5-percent, and neither is Cory Booker at 2.3-percent.

“The Iowa Trend” – Of course the nationwide poll means nothing if you don’t perform well in the state with the first vote, Iowa. The Real Clear Politics composite poll in Iowa has Joe Biden leading at 25-percent and trending up. Elizabeth Warren is at 16-percent and is also moving up. Kamala Harris is at 14-percent but dropping. Bernie Sanders has 12-percent and is also declining. Mayor Pete Buttigieg is on the rise at 7-percent, and neighboring Minnesotan Amy Klobuchar has risen up to 3-percent.

“Only 3 or 4 Tickets!” – There’s an old political bromide when people chatter about the Iowa Caucuses and the New Hampshire Primaries. You’ll often hear people say, “There are only three tickets out of Iowa,” or, “There are only three tickets out of New Hampshire!” In truth, it’s hard to imagine any more than three or four candidates surviving the first two contests, with the trail moving on to the Nevada Caucuses and the South Carolina Primary, before February ends. Every poll I’ve seen continues to show Biden, Sanders, Warren and Harris as the only viable candidates at this point in time.

“The Politics of Mass Shootings” – I apologize for even bringing this up. It’s unseemly as a nation grieves. My prayers are with the victims' families and their communities in El Paso and Dayton, both cities where I have done extensive broadcast work in my career. That said, we’ve seen a lot of former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) Texas this week, who represented El Paso during three terms in Congress. We’ve also seen much from Sen. Sherrod Brown (D) Ohio. Both men will be legitimate contenders for the vice-presidential slot on the Democratic ticket. Ohio is a must-win state for both parties, and Democrats believe Texas is vulnerable, given that O’Rourke nearly beat Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas in 2018. The politics of all of this is legitimate, although the timing and circumstances are so sad.

“The Dark Horse?” – Did I write off Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota too early in my column last week? Could be! This week Klobuchar qualified to be the eighth candidate in next month’s ABC News Debates. She’s also risen to sixth-place with 3 percent of the vote in the latest Iowa polls. Yes, I think she remains a long-shot for the presidential nomination, but she is a legitimate contender for the vice-presidential slot on the ticket. Her Minnesota roots will have big appeal in the must-win neighboring states of Wisconsin and Iowa. As with O’Rourke and Brown, whom I mentioned above, keep Klobuchar on your short list for VP. Minnesota has a knack for sending vice presidents to Washington. Think Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale.

Who do you think would make a good vice president? Just click the comment button to make your voice heard!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five neighboring states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Writer for “The White House Patch” at

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy:

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