“This is something that Arizonans are really ready for—a good, strong gun safety plan.”
Arizona gun safety advocates are applauding Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s plan to end gun violence, which he calls a “public health epidemic.”
The issue is not new to Biden—as a senator in the ’90s, he worked on legislation challenging the National Rifle Association (NRA). And as vice president under President Barack Obama, he helped roll out actions to tighten gun regulations after a man fatally shot 20 children and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012.
Now, as Biden challenges President Donald Trump this fall, he is including the issue in his platform.
The plan calls for holding gun manufacturers civilly liable for their products, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, only allowing people to buy one firearm per month to prevent stockpiling, prohibiting online gun and ammunition sales, and more.
Kara Waite, an Arizona chapter leader for Moms Demand Action, told The Copper Courier she is “really thrilled” to see Biden champion the issue this election cycle.
Waite joined Moms Demand in Action in 2014 when, as a community college teacher in Massachusetts, three of her former students were killed in shootings over one summer.
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“I think that we’re undergoing this massive cultural shift over the last few years that really has moved gun safety from kind of a third-rail issue that no one wanted to touch to one of those essential kitchen-table issues that people talk about all over the nation,” she said.
According to the Center for American Progress, Arizona is the 12th-worst state for gun suicides and the 19th-worst for gun murders.
A poll commissioned earlier this year by Everytown for Gun Safety, Moms Demand Action’s parent organization, found that half of Arizona voters supported stronger gun laws.
“This is something that Arizonans are really ready for—a good, strong gun safety plan,” Waite said.
To her, one of the most important aspects of the plan is a pledge to require universal background checks and get rid of exceptions for gun sales online, at gun shows, and at private sales.
“Background checks on every gun sale are the single-most effective gun policy when it comes to saving lives,” Waite explained.
Everytown for Gun Safety also endorsed Biden and his plan.
“We applaud former Vice President Biden for putting together a robust plan to address a gun violence crisis that claims 100 American lives every day,” the group’s President John Feinblatt said in a press release. “More Americans than ever are demanding common-sense gun safety measures— and more presidential candidates than ever are committed to taking action if they win the White House.”
Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who was seriously injured in a Tucson mass shooting in 2011, is another supporter.
“Congresswoman Giffords and Vice President Biden have a long history of working together to advance commonsense gun safety laws, especially in the wake of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School,” Giffords writes on her website. “In addition to calling for universal background checks, regulating assault weapons, and extreme risk protection orders, Biden’s gun safety plan goes further, addressing the need to invest in community violence intervention programs, enhancing gun safety technology, ensuring the relinquishment of firearms from prohibited buyers, and holding gun manufacturers accountable.”
Where Does Trump Stand?
Trump, on the other hand, does not mention gun safety in his 50-point second-term agenda—something Waite says is “unconscionable.”
Throughout his presidency, he has aligned himself with the NRA, which is now currently under investigation in New York for financial misconduct. The state’s attorney general said the organization is so “fraught with fraud and abuse” that she is seeking to dissolve it.
The Trump administration has also loosened some existing gun regulations over the past four years.
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The president’s only mention of guns in his re-election agenda is a promise to “support the exercise of Second Amendment rights.”
Waite said this framing is frustrating to her.
“I also think it’s incredibly misguided for him to talk about the Second Amendment instead of talking about policies, because strong gun policy and life-saving gun laws are not at odds with the Second Amendment,” she said. “It’s completely possible to support the Second Amendment and still believe that we can do so much more to end gun violence.”