At Gun Control Forum, 2020 Democrats Jockey to Outdo Each Other Bashing NRA and Trump

DES MOINES, Iowa - One week after mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton that renewed a national conversation about gun violence, most of the Democrats angling for the White House lined up Saturday at forum with gun control advocates.The massacres propelled the issue to the top of the party's agenda, and it took no arm twisting to fill the roster with candidates already in Iowa for the state fair."This has been a tragically sad week in America, as we all know," said Michael Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and founder of Everytown for Gun Safety, which hosted the gathering. "And you're here because you refuse to settle for thoughts and prayers."The media mogul has bankrolled the counterweight to the NRA. In next year's elections, he vowed to fund "the most massive effort on gun safety that our nation has ever seen.""Enough mass murders. Enough shootings," Bloomberg said, "and anyone who thinks they're going to get reelected ignoring the American people on this issue is in for a very rude awakening."The candidates agreed on nearly everything: the need to ban assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines, tighten licensing for gun buyers and sellers, make it easier for police to confiscate guns from abusive boyfriends, and restore funds for federal research on gun violence.They also agreed that President Donald Trump is part of the problem, by resisting gun restrictions after previous massacres, and by stoking extremism that inspired the El Paso murders."We need a president who actually cares about this and will bring people together instead of driving them apart," said Julian Castro, the former housing secretary and San Antonio mayor.Several hundred activists filled a hall at the Iowa Event Center in downtown Des Moines as a parade of candidates bashed the NRA and Trump and jockeyed to demonstrate the most ardent commitment to gun control.They noted that the United States has more guns than people, and the most guns per capita of any country, ahead only of Yemen, a nation in the throes of civil war. They vowed to lift federal protection against lawsuits for gun manufacturers.Much of the discussion centered on how to overcome GOP resistance to gun control in the Senate."You have for the first time put the NRA on the defensive, and that is no small thing," said Sen. Bernie Sanders. "Ten, 15 years ago nobody touched the NRA."Sen. Elizabeth Warren called for consumer pressure if not outright boycotts. She hit Walmart for pulling violent video games but said, "They would be a lot more effective if they just stopped selling guns." And she called out Wells Fargo for providing banking services for the NRA."No one says it's illegal at this point," she said, but "I'd rather spend my money, I'd rather do my banking, in line with my values."Everytown hosted the forum with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a group led by activists whose families have been touched by gun violence.Beto O'Rourke provided a video message from El Paso, where he has spent the last week comforting his hometown after the shooting at a bustling Walmart that left 22 dead - "buying groceries, getting their kids ready for school.""In an average year El Paso will lose 18 people to murder... We need to acknowledge that this is not an act of God nor it is a natural disaster," he said. "No other country comes close to this level of violence."  Continue reading...

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