Sen. Kamala Harris on Wednesday announced that, if she is elected president, she will ban the importation of all AR-15 style assault weapons by executive action if Congress fails to act in the first 100 days of her administration.
Harris made the announcement at a campaign stop in New Hampshire.
“Assault weapons are designed to kill a lot of people in a very short period of time,” Harris said.
“I think that this has got to be something that is understood, that we cannot any longer afford to allow people to make this a partisan issue,” Harris added. “Those guns, those assault weapons, do not discriminate and determine, ‘OK, is the person pointing it at, is it a Democrat or Republican.’ “
Harris’ proposal is the latest in a series of gun-related executive actions she has promised to take if she wins the Democratic nomination and defeats Donald Trump in 2020. Previously, Harris had said she’d use presidential executive action to mandate near-universal background checks, revoke licenses of gun dealers who break the law, limit fugitives with outstanding arrest warrants from buying guns and close the so-called “boyfriend loophole.”
The issue of gun violence has jettisoned into the national spotlight in recent years as a result of high-profile mass shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012 that left more than 20 dead, and more recently, at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in 2018, which left 17 dead. Democrats have pushed for stricter gun laws in the wake of these shootings. Those pushes have been met with fierce opposition from most Republican lawmakers who do not support expanding regulations on firearms.
Earlier this month, Harris’ fellow 2020 Democratic contender Sen. Cory Booker unveiled his proposal to address gun violence and mass shootings. His plan would make gun licenses the federal standard – requiring fingerprints, an interview and completion of a gun safety course. He also proposed banning assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and bump stocks; expanding background checks to include purchases from unlicensed sellers and closing the “Charleston loophole” that enabled Emanuel AME Church shooter Dylann Roof to purchase a gun when the FBI did not complete his background check during the mandatory three-day waiting period.
Harris’ new proposal “would ban AR-15-style assault weapon imports because they are not ‘suitable for or readily adaptable to sporting purposes.’ Additionally, the Harris proposal would have the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives suspend all assault weapons imports until the agency studies and determines admissibility under the “sporting purpose” test, said the Harris official.