The senator unveiled her plan in the wake of two mass shootings in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas that claimed the lives of 31 innocent people. With emotions still raw, Warren announced that she would use as much executive power as she could to curb immigration laws and mitigate the power of pro-gun activists.
Here are six things to know about Warren’s gun violence prevention plan.
Warren wants to see gun deaths cut by 80 percent.
The main objective of Warren’s plan is to cut gun-related deaths, including homicides, suicides, and accidental deaths, by 80%. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data from 2017, 39,773 Americans died from firearms deaths with 60% being suicides, 36.6% homicides, and the remainder from accidental injuries.
While gun deaths are basically on par with motor vehicle deaths in the United States, the rate at which Americans die from gun-related injuries is far beyond that of similar countries, as Warren noted on Twitter. She compared her gun violence plan to similar plans enacted to curb motor vehicle deaths in the U.S.
It’s easy to despair when our government refuses to act. But we are not incapable of solving big problems. Over fifty years ago, we took big steps to make our cars safer and since then, we reduced per-mile driving deaths by almost 80% and prevented 3.5 million automobile deaths.
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) August 10, 2019
Warren hopes to cut the nearly 40,000 gun-related deaths in 2017 to 8,000 with her new plan.
She plans to strip pro-gun activists of their lobbying power.
One foundational promise of Warren’s plan is to cut down the pro-gun lobby in the United States, specifically naming the National Rifle Association (NRA).
Warren claimed that the only thing blocking “sensible gun legislation” is “far-right ideologues” backed by activists groups like the NRA.
“And while the majority of Americans — including a majority of gun owners — support sensible gun legislation, even the most basic proposals, like universal background checks, are consistently blocked by far-right ideologues in Congress who are bought and paid for by the gun industry, their NRA partners, and a supporting army of lobbyists and lawyers.”
To combat the NRA, Warren plans to investigate their non-profit status to revoke any tax benefits the group may have.
She noted that the organization spent $200 million lobbying Congress over the past 20 years. While that may seem like a lot, the TV, movies, and music industries in the U.S. spent more than $1 billion from 1998 to 2018.
Although the gun lobby may be much smaller than other industries, she plans to zero in on their operations and use her attorney general to crack down on any financial violations that may exist.
Warren hopes to ban the filibuster.
In concert with the crackdown on the NRA, Warren hopes to curb the power of those in Congress who pro-gun activists support. The main tool to shut down members who wish to block gun control measures is to cut the member’s ability to filibuster.
The filibuster has been used to block legislation throughout American history. In the Senate, any member has the ability to block a vote by speaking as long as he or she can to prevent a vote on an issue. The only way to force the end of the debate is to invoke cloture with a two-thirds vote of the chamber.
By blocking the filibuster, would stop the ability of the minority party to stop votes from happening, as Republicans did following the shooting at Sandy Hook.
“I will break the NRA’s stranglehold on Congress by passing sweeping anti-corruption legislation and eliminating the filibuster so that our nation can no longer be held hostage by a small group of well-financed extremists who have already made it perfectly clear that they will never put the safety of the American people first,” Warren wrote.
Many Democrats and Republicans, however, are skeptical of ending the filibuster because of the massive power shift it gives to the majority party.
She wants to make gun manufacturers liable for gun deaths.
Warren’s plan calls for Congress to allow gun manufacturers to be sued for injuries related to their weapons. This liability would go well beyond the current liability manufacturers face if their product malfunctions and injures the owner.
This would allow families of shooting victims to sue the manufacturer of the weapon. Warren writes:
“Holding gun manufacturers strictly liable for the harm they cause through a federal private right of action. Gun manufacturers make billions in profit by knowingly selling deadly products. Then they are let completely off the hook when people take those deadly products and inflict harm on thousands of victims each year.”
Many see this to be a step too far, as it would likely run most gun manufacturers out of business because someone else purposely misused the product to bring harm to innocent people.
Warren plans to levy high taxes on weapons and ammunition.
In addition to making gun manufacturers liable, Warren plans to nail them with a massive tax. Currently, guns and ammunition are taxed federally at a rate of 10 to 11%. The senator wants to triple the tax on guns to 30% and skyrocket the ammunitions tax to 50%.
Warren claims this tax hike would “both to reduce new gun and ammunition sales overall and to bring in new federal revenue that we can use for gun violence prevention and enforcement of existing gun laws.”
She’ll also require gun licenses, universal background checks, and more.
Though Warren’s plan has many features that set it apart from the standard suggestions to curb gun violence, she didn’t ignore the common calls.
Like Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Warren wants to require a gun license, similar to a drivers license, for gun ownership. She supports universal background checks on all gun transfers. Additionally, she supports:
- Red Flag laws;
- a cap on gun purchases, essentially banning bulk weapons purchases;
- an extended waiting period after purchasing a weapon;
- stronger anti-gun-trafficking laws to prevent illegal weapons sales;
- rasing the minimum age to own a firearm to 21
- bans on “assault weapons” and high capacity magazines.
Of her policy, Warren wrote, “My administration will use all the authorities at the federal government’s disposal to investigate and prosecute all those who circumvent or violate existing federal gun laws.”
Warren faces two major hurdles to her gun plan. First, she must defeat the crowded field of 2020 Democrats and President Donald Trump‘s reelection bid to enact any executive orders. Second, she would likely face a battle in the courts as to the constitutionality of several of her proposals as they relate to the Second Amendment.