- Scott Olson/Getty; Justin Sullivan/Getty Images; Skye Gould/Business Insider
One of the most divisive issues in this year’s presidential election is gun control.
Republican candidate Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton could not be further apart.
Efforts to reform federal gun laws in the wake of multiple mass shootings in the US have repeatedly fallen flat in Congress, despite impassioned pleas for soul-searching from victims of gun violence and their families – and from President Barack Obama.
More than 33,000 people died from gun-related injuries in 2013, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the most recent year for which data is available.
As indicated by a Reuters-Ipsos poll earlier this year, a majority of Americans say they support tighter federal gun laws.
Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump differ on how to address gun control.
Here’s where they stand on gun control:
- Skye Gould/Business Insider
Clinton has made it clear that her administration would focus on tightening restrictions for gun purchases. Clinton asserts that 20% to 40% of all gun purchases in America are conducted with no background check because of loopholes in federal law.
The Democratic candidate is a proponent of expanded background checks, a provision that targets loopholes that allow gun buyers to bypass background checks when buying guns online or at gun shows. Further, she says that she wants to close what she calls the “Charleston loophole,” which allows a gun sale to proceed without a full background check if the check isn’t completed within three days.
The Charleston loophole refers to Dylann Roof, the man accused of killing nine people inside a Charleston, South Carolina, church in June 2015. Roof was allowed to legally purchase a firearm despite a drug arrest months earlier. That arrest did not appear on his background check.
“We are smart enough – compassionate enough – to figure out how to balance legitimate Second Amendment rights with preventive measures,” Clinton tweeted in August.
Clinton supported the 1994 Brady Bill – legislation that mandated federal background checks on firearm purchases, a five-day waiting period on purchases, while placing restrictions on who can transport or ship firearms.
Trump asserts that an “overwhelming majority of people who go through background checks are law-abiding gun owners” and that too many states fail to properly put criminal and mental-health records into the database system. The GOP nominee wants to focus on fixing defective gun legislation already in place, instead of expanding on it in order to avoid infringing on the Second Amendment rights of Americans.
“What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended. What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system,” Trump says on his campaign website.
Clinton proposes that the assault-weapons ban that expired in 2004 should be reinstated.
That law prohibited the manufacture, transfer, or possession of “semiautomatic assault weapons,” which were defined by detachable magazines and other characteristics depending on the type of gun. Weapons with the capacity to accept more than 10 rounds of ammunition were also banned.
“We’ve got to keep weapons of war off our streets, as well as blocking suspected terrorists from buying guns,” the Democratic candidate said on “CBS This Morning” in June.
Clinton has associated terrorism to the prevalence of semiautomatic weapons in the US. The shootings in San Bernardino, Newtown, and Aurora were perpetrated using similar versions of the AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, according to Reuters.
- Thomson Reuters
Trump claims legislation banning semiautomatic rifles and large magazines has been “a total failure,” failing to keep guns out of the hands of violent criminals. As such, he opposes restrictions on assault-weapon sales.
“Law-abiding people should be allowed to own the firearm of their choice. The government has no business dictating what types of firearms good, honest people are allowed to own,” Trump’s platform notes on his website.
The GOP nominee appears to have changed his position on assault weapons since writing his book “The America We Deserve” in 2000. In it Trump wrote, “I generally oppose gun control, but I support the ban on assault weapons and I support a slightly longer waiting period to purchase a gun,” PolitiFact notes.
Trump recanted his statement during a debate in March when he was asked if he supported the ban, saying: “I don’t support it anymore. I do not support the ban on assault weapons.”
- Reuters/John Sommers II
As part of her platform, Clinton has vowed to challenge gun lobbyists, and that has earned her an F rating from the National Rifle Association.
Clinton’s plan calls for repealing the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act,” which shields gun manufacturers from being sued by victims of gun violence.
In May, Trump received an endorsement from the NRA, despite formerly supporting gun control. He has made no statements on the “Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act.”
One in four Americans experiences a mental-health issue throughout the year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Clinton is advocating for improvements in mental health nationwide. Specifically, she wants to amend legislation that allows people suffering from mental illnesses to obtain guns. The Democratic nominee said that people “involuntarily committed to outpatient treatment” should be prohibited from buying guns.
Right now, federal law prohibits someone from buying guns if they have been classified as a danger to themselves or others because of mental illness. But the government relies on states to provide that mental-health status to its national background-check system. Some states have differing mental-health standards. The Virginia Tech shooter, who was mentally ill, was able to access to a gun because Virginia only prohibits gun sales to someone “involuntarily committed to a mental hospital.” Clinton’s plan would close that loophole.
Trump has called for expanding mental-health treatment programs as well as “fixing” our “broken” mental-health system that has allowed “red flags” to slip through the cracks. And while he has called for getting violent people “off the streets,” he argues that regulations inspired by shooting incidents involving the mentally ill often penalize gun owners in the aggregate.
‘And why does this matter to law-abiding gun owners? Once again, because they get blamed by antigun politicians, gun-control groups, and the media for the acts of deranged madmen,” Trump said.
Trump has been unclear about how he would “fix” the mental-health system.