From the perspective of the Democratic Candidate: Secretary Hillary Clinton
While Secretary Clinton agrees with all other candidates that shootings across America occur way too frequently, her stance is in full support of more stringent gun control laws. According to Clinton, too many loopholes exist under the current laws and provisions.
Clinton argues that a more in-depth legislation must be implemented to increase the number of sales subject to federal background checks. Current federal law does not protect against unlicensed dealers online, at gun shows or private sales among individuals.
Clinton is also an advocate of closing the “Charleston Loophole,” which allows a gun sale to be made if the completed background check is not returned in three days. She emphasizes the need for sufficient time and resources to complete background checks before any sale is made. If Congress refuses to cooperate with her proposals, she will require that any person selling any number of firearms be labeled “in the business” to ensure they abide by all necessary rules that apply to gun stores, which include background checks.
In 2005, the National Rifle Association (NRA) pushed Congress to pass a bill that prevents victims of gun violence from suing manufacturers and dealers for negligence. As president, Clinton would take the lead in gathering support and repealing this bill.
Clinton will fight for legislation that expands federal law that currently only prohibits domestic abusers from possessing guns, to include convicted stalkers and people in abusive dating relationships. She also wants gun control legislation to prevent gun purchasing and gun ownership of those who are involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment for mental illnesses.
As expressed at the previous presidential debate, Clinton is a firm supporter of banning suspected terrorists, to include anyone on the FBI watch list, from buying a gun. She has repeatedly stated, “If you are too dangerous to get on a plane, you are too dangerous to buy a gun in America.”
From the perspective of the Green Party Candidate: Dr. Jill Stein
Dr. Stein is less outspoken about her plans for gun control. While she has strong opinions and knows what needs to be done to minimize gun violence, she is less descriptive than the other candidates in determining a plan for implementation.
Stein believes more than a complete ban on assault weapons is needed in order to safeguard American citizens. She also feels that individual communities “know what’s best” and must be able to regulate guns, as needed, in order to deal with local violence.
Arguably different from the other candidates, Stein feels strongly about reducing the culture of gun violence in other ways. She noted, “gun violence is a reflection of a much deeper illness in our society.” According to Stein, the drug culture is a major influencer of the gun culture in America, and legalizing marijuana would have a huge impact on the reduction of drug and gun culture.
Stein calls for strengthening current laws, the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 for example, which requires licensed arms dealers to do background checks. She would also renew the Assault Weapons Ban of 1994, which lapsed in 2004 and has been without renewal since. This law bans some semi-automatic weapons and any ammunition magazines or drums that hold more than ten rounds.
In regards to personal gun ownership, Stein has stated that it is more dangerous for people to have a gun in a home than it is to not. She believes that chances of occupants being injured by their own gun is greater than them being injured by an intruder. For her, this is a national public health epidemic and constraints are necessary for the safety of everyone.
Although I respect Clinton and Stein’s individual proposals regarding gun control, I do find that their focus around tightening already existent laws may be faulted. Stricter gun control laws will not reduce mass shootings. California, for example, has some of the strictest and longest standing gun control measures; this did not stop the San Bernardino shooting. There are no laws strong enough that would prevent someone from obtaining a weapon if they wanted to. Criminals do not obey laws and neither do terrorists.
On the other hand, I also feel that allowing Americans to arm themselves with weapons makes it more difficult for police to conduct daily police operations, such as routine traffic stops and domestic disturbances. I do agree with Stein that the culture behind gun violence needs to be changed, but how can that be done?
Critics say that gun control laws are violation of the second amendment and I agree with that to a certain extent. The Constitution was an article drafted to prevent the federal government from gaining too much power, and I feel that the Constitution and the amendments are for the protection of the citizen, not the government. However, I would not lobby for the NRA any more than I would protest for tighter gun laws. There needs to be a more median proposal to gun control, which is hard to find in any of the candidate’s proposals.