Elizabeth Warren proposes gun measures in the wake of deadly mass shootings

Elizabeth Warren.
Elizabeth Warren.Tom Brenner/The New York Times

Senator Elizabeth Warren outlined a series of measures Saturday with an ambitious goal of slashing rates of gun deaths by 80 percent, pitching her ideas for firearms licensing, an assault weapons ban and other major changes ahead of a gun safety event in Iowa that follows mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

Warren pledged to enact many of her proposals — a combination of executive actions and legislation — within the first 100 days of her presidency if elected, she wrote in a Medium post.

Acknowledging her 80 percent goal as daunting, Warren likened it to the dramatic drop in automobile fatalities after the number of deaths from car accidents reached frightening heights in the 1960s.


“We might not know how to get all the way there yet,” Warren wrote. “But we’ll start by implementing solutions that we believe will work. We’ll continue by constantly revisiting and updating those solutions based on new public health research. And we’ll make structural changes to end the ability of corrupt extremists to block our government from defending the lives of our people.”

Warren has become known for setting the tone on policy for the 2020 Democratic primary field with detailed policy proposals unveiled almost weekly. But she had yet to release a gun control plan when mass shootings unfolded over a matter of hours last weekend, killing 31 people. Some of Warren’s campaign rivals, including California Senator Kamala Harris and New Jersey Senator Cory Booker, released gun control proposals several months ago, and two others, Washington Governor Jay Inslee and South Bend, Ind., Mayor Pete Buttigieg, did so on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders called for a ban on making, selling, and transferring assault weapons and program for the government to buy those weapons from Americans; the following day, in a CNN interview, former vice president Joe Biden also endorsed a national buyback program.


In her plan, Warren said she’d propose legislation banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, requiring a federal license to purchase firearms or ammunition, implementing universal background checks, and significantly hiking taxes on gun manufacturers — to as high as 50 percent on ammunition.

She would set a nationwide one-week waiting period to buy guns, and cap the number of guns that can be purchased per month at one. Her legislation would also raise the minimum age to buy any type of gun to 21 and strengthen meaures to combat so-called straw purchases involving a person buying a gun on behalf of someone who is prohibited from buying it.

Warren’s plan endorses “red flag” laws that allow guns to be seized from individuals deemed dangerous to themselves or others. She also proposed extending restrictions of firearms sales to those convicted of hate crimes, stalking, or who have restraining orders.

“Any individual convicted of a hate crime should be permanently prohibited from owning a gun, full stop,” Warren wrote.

Other legislative measures in her proposal would repeal existing laws. Under Warren’s plan, gun manufacturers and sellers could be sued when their weapons are used to commit a crime, repealing a 2005 law that prohibited such suits. And Warren would urge Congress to repeal another law that exempts guns from federal product safety regulations.

Beyond legislation, the Cambridge Democrat said that if elected, she would implement executive orders to close federal background check loopholes, expand gun sale reporting requirements, and extend minimum age requirements to more types of sales. Warren would also crack down on illegal gun trafficking across state and federal borders as well as on gun dealers that don’t follow the law.


And Warren said she’d repeal a flurry of executive orders loosening gun restrictions enacted by President Trump as well as appoint an attorney general committed to investigating the National Rifle Association for alleged illegal business practices.

Jess Bidgood contributed to this report. Christina Prignano can be reached at christina.prignano@globe.com.