Oct 2, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Joe Biden's 2020 gun safety plan would reinstate assault weapons ban

Joe Biden at a campaign rally in Las Vegas. Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Former Vice President Joe Biden is out with an 11-page proposal to end gun violence in the United States.

The big picture: Biden's plan would ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, but it would not call for a mandatory assault weapons buyback program as Beto O'Rourke has proposed.

  • Instead, it gives those who own such guns two choices: sell the weapons to the government or register them under the National Firearms Act.

Other policies in Biden's plan:

  • Mandating universal background checks for all gun sales, except for gifts between close family members.
  • Closing the "boyfriend," "hate crime," "fugitive from justice," and "Charleston" loopholes in the current federal background check system.
  • Ending the online sales of guns.
  • Incentivizing states to implement gun licensing programs of their own.
  • Calling on Congress to appropriate $50 million to accelerate research on causes and prevention of gun violence at the CDC and NIH.
  • Prohibiting the use of federal funds to arm or train educators to use guns in schools.

The state of play: Biden's campaign is releasing this plan ahead of the Giffords/March for Our Lives gun safety presidential forum today in Las Vegas.

  • When asked how Biden would get these things passed into law if he were president and Republicans controlled the Senate, a senior Biden campaign official told Axios, "You have in the vice president’s record two examples of him succeeding in getting legislation done and defeating the NRA before."
  • The campaign also pointed to 23 executive actions Biden and former President Barack Obama took after the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting to pass more gun control legislation.
  • A senior Biden campaign official said it'd be funded "by making sure the super-wealthy and corporations pay their fair share."

Our thought bubble: O'Rourke has been a leader on this issue because of his impassioned voice — and how far he's willing to go. But this is an area where Biden is uniquely positioned to highlight his record of defeating the NRA to inform his vision for the way forward. It's also something his campaign has previously said could help attract younger voters.

  • The challenge is meeting these voters and activists where they are. Biden takes a more measured, bipartisan approach, while many younger gun safety activists aren't willing to compromise and say they want someone who will take action now.

The full plan:

Go deeper: Where 2020 Democrats stand on gun control

Go deeper