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2020 Democrats to talk gun safety in Iowa after shootings

Associated Press

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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., speaks during an American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Public Service Forum in Las Vegas Saturday, Aug. 3, 2019. (Steve Marcus/Las Vegas Sun via AP)

WASHINGTON (AP) — At least six Democratic presidential candidates are scheduled to attend a forum in Iowa on Saturday organized by gun control advocates in the wake of two mass shootings that killed 31 people in Texas and Ohio.

Sponsored by the groups Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, the forum will give the candidates a chance to spotlight their gun violence prevention proposals at a time of heightened public concern following the two shootings within 24 hours. The event will be held in Des Moines while many Democratic White House hopefuls are in Iowa to campaign and attend the annual state fair.

Already scheduled to attend are Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, as well as Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg. Another gun control forum, sponsored by the gun control groups Giffords and March for Our Lives, is scheduled to include eight Democratic candidates on Oct. 2 in Las Vegas.

“There has never been a more urgent time for 2020 candidates to tell Americans exactly how they will address gun violence,” Everytown’s president, John Feinblatt, said in a statement.

Given the prominence of gun ownership among Iowa’s rural voters, pitching stringent gun control in the state could pose some risks for Democrats despite high public interest in the issue following the recent shootings. Joey Norris, the Democratic chair in rural Montgomery County and a gun owner himself, said if candidates are “extremely liberal on gun control issues, they might want to ignore” the topic when campaigning in rural parts of the state.

But he also pointed to an opportunity for Democrats to potentially appeal to independents and even some moderate Republicans with how they approach the issues.

“Most of the gun owners I know, they like sensible ideas” such as closing background check loopholes, Norris said. “They want to make sure that guns don’t get a bad rap.”

All the candidates scheduled to appear on Saturday have campaigned in support of stronger gun control, with two on the list — Buttigieg and Inslee — releasing detailed plans on Tuesday that aim to prevent mass shootings, particularly those motivated by white nationalism.

Warren is expected to release a gun control proposal on Saturday ahead of the forum.


Associated Press writer Alexandra Jaffe in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.

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    Jeff Blakeley

    August 10, 2019 at 8:06 pm

    The Second Amendment of the Bill of RIGHTS is in the Constitution to protect us from a government tyrannical ideas proposed by these candidates. We need anger control, we need societal sensibility, we need the vision of what our Founding Fathers set down as the guide for Freedom. We have strayed so far away, we can hardly see, let alone what the Founding Fathers proposed. It’s a shame the direction our Country is taking. Spread the hate and neither “side” is going to be happy with the wasteland that will result. God used to bless this nation with prosperity. He was pushed aside and we will reap the whirlwind.

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