Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren called gun violence in the U.S. a “national health emergency,” during the first 2020 Democratic debate Wednesday evening.
“Seven children will die today from gun violence, children and teenagers,” she said. “And they won’t just die in mass shootings, they’ll die on sidewalks, they’ll die in playgrounds, they’ll die in people’s backyards.”
“Gun violence is a national health emergency in this country,” she said. “And we need to treat it like that.”
Warren said the U.S. government needs to do “sensible” things like universal background checks.
She also called gun violence a “serious research problem.”
“We can ban the weapons of war, but we can also double down on the research and find out what really works, where it is that we can make the differences at the margins that will keep our children safe,” she said.
“We have to treat it like a public health emergency.
“That means bringing data to bear and it means making real change in this country, whether it’s politically popular or not.”
Other candidates also shared their plans for tackling gun violence.
New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker noted that he lives in a neighbourhood where shootings are common.
“For millions of Americans this is not a policy issue, this is an urgency,” he said. “And for those who have not been directly affected, they’re tired of living in a country where their kids go to school to learn about reading, writing and arithmetic and how to deal with an active shooter in their school.”
Booker supports gun licensing.
“If you need a licence to drive a car, you should need a licence to buy and own a gun,” he said.
He continued, “I’m tired of hearing people [say] all they have to offer is thoughts and prayers… it is time we have bold action and a bold agenda.”
“This is not about policy, this is personal.”
Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan called for mental health reform, saying America needs to “go on the offensive” when it comes to dealing with the issue of gun violence.
“Ninety per cent of the shooters who do school shootings come from the school they’re in and 73 per cent of them feel shamed, traumatized or bullied.”
Ryan called for mental health counsellors in every school, as well as social and emotional learning, and trauma-based care.
“We need to start playing offence,” he said.
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar credited the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas (MSD) High School for triggering a “national shift” on the issue of gun safety.
Wednesday’s debate took place in Miami, just 80 kilometers from the school in Parkland, Fla., where a gunman killed 17 people on Feb. 14, 2018.
Since the shooting, survivors and their families have advocated across the country for gun control.
“It’s about time somebody brought up licensing and registration,” David Hogg, gun control activist and Parkland school shooting survivor tweeted during Wednesday’s debate.
“Now talk about funding violence intervention programs that treat violence as a public health issue.”
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