Democratic presidential candidates urged Congress on Saturday to take steps to curb armed violence following last weekend's mass shootings in Texas and Ohio that left 31 dead.
Speaking at a hurriedly convened forum in Iowa, they called for the imposition of universal background checks on gun buyers, the so-called “red flag” laws, and finally the ban on military-style assault weapons.
They also said they believed the longstanding debate about US armed violence is shifting in favor of stronger restrictions.
"The heat is on like never before," said US Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Candidates answered questions from gun control advocates and survivors at a forum sponsored by Everytown for Gun Safety, a advocacy group founded by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In the shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, gunmen used semi-automatic guns with high-volume magazines.
Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, called for these weapons to be removed from the streets.
“They have no base in our peacetime neighborhoods in the United States,” Buttigieg said.
US Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said that if she won the White House, she would use executive powers to impose higher background checks and more reports on multiple gun purchases and to expand age restrictions to limit adolescent access to weapons.
Iowa is a key focus of the campaign, because in February the state will hold the first Democratic presidential primary nomination contest before the 2020 presidential election.
Many called for measures such as a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and other gun control reforms long since blocked by partisan fighting in Washington.
Democrats this week criticized Republican President Donald Trump's mixed message about possible support for some arms control measures.
On Friday, Trump suggested that he could influence the country's powerful arms lobby, the National Rifle Association, to abandon its opposition to gun restrictions.
Klobuchar suggested that Trump would not accept the group, however. "We have a guy in the White House who is afraid, afraid of NRA," she said.
She and others also criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, for refusing to bring a background check and other legislation to the floor for a vote.
"Red flag" laws would allow police to temporarily confiscate the weapons of persons considered by a judge to be a threat to themselves or others.
At a forum on pay raises on Friday in Fort Dodge, Iowa, US Senator Kamala Harris, another presidential candidate, said children at school “half their brains are worried about who can get in the door. and threaten your safety ”.
Harris reiterated his plan to give Congress 100 days to send a gun control bill to his desk and otherwise take executive action to establish a comprehensive background check system, revoke licenses from violating dealers, and ban the importation of aggression style. weapons.
"It's scary for our children," Harris said to applause. There are alleged leaders in Washington, DC who have failed to have the courage to act. ”