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President Donald Trump said he is talking with congressional leaders and considering tougher background checks for gun buyers.
USA TODAY

With a goal of reducing gun-related deaths by 80%, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren has promised to sign comprehensive gun control legislation in the first 100 days in office, if she’s elected president.

During her campaign swing through Iowa, the Massachusetts Democrat released a three-point plan Saturday that includes a list of executive actions, ideas for gun control, and a promise to end the filibuster so lawmakers funded by the National Rifle Association can’t block anti-gun legislation.

Warren is on a four-day trip through Iowa, originally scheduled as a chance to highlight her $200 billion investment plan for rural America. While that has been a primary focus of her trip, Warren has also addressed gun control in the wake of mass shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, which killed 31 people.  

“The overwhelming majority of Americans know that we need to make some sensible changes, and they know what those changes are,” she in Council Bluffs on Wednesday. “But right now … the Republicans are held by the throat by the NRA. Enough is enough. When I am president, we’re going to get rid of the filibuster, and we’re going to pass some serious gun legislation.”

Amber Gustafson, the former Iowa chapter leader with Moms Demand Action, a gun safety group, joined Warren on her Winnebago on Friday to discuss gun violence and Warren’s plan. Gustafson, an Ankeny Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Senate President Jack Whitver in 2018, said she is not yet endorsing a candidate but was impressed by Warren’s thoughts on addressing gun safety.

More: Democratic presidential candidates scramble plans to address gun violence on the Iowa caucus campaign trail

More: 17 presidential candidates will attend Saturday’s gun forum in Des Moines. Here’s what to expect.

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Warren will join 16 other Democratic presidential candidates at a last-minute “gun safety” forum in Des Moines on Saturday, organized by Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, groups advocating for gun regulation after previous mass shootings throughout the country.

Her plan was released at the same time the event was scheduled to begin. 

Nearly 40,000 victims died by firearms in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. If Warren achieves her goal, the number of victims would be reduced to 8,000.

“We might not know how to get all the way there yet,” Warren wrote in a Medium post announcing the plan. “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.”

Warren’s proposed executive actions cover the sale of guns, the prosecution of those who violate federal law, and the protection of vulnerable Americans. They include: 

  • Requiring background checks for private sales, including at gun shows and online, and require reporting of bulk gun sales.  
  • Prosecuting gun traffickers and revoke licenses for dealers who break the law. 
  • Closing the so-called boyfriend loophole; banning 3-D printed guns; and reversing a federal ruling that allows the conversion of a pistol to a short-barreled rifle.

Warren’s proposed gun control legislation includes 20 ideas, she said she believes are a combination of “our best ideas about what will work to reduce gun violence.”

“It starts by ensuring that safe, responsible ownership is the standard for everyone who chooses to own a gun,” she wrote. 

Other provisions would:

  • Create a federal licensing system; 
  • Ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines and other accessories that make weapons more deadly; 
  • Require universal background checks; 
  • Increase taxes on gun manufacturers by 20 percent; 
  • Establish a one-week waiting period for gun purchases; 
  • Raise the minimum purchase age to 21;
  • Prohibit anyone convicted of a hate crime from purchasing a gun; 
  • Expand the Gun-Free School Zones Act to include colleges and universities; 
  • Require that gun manufactures compensate victims of gun violence.

Warren promises to devote $100 million annually to research into “the root causes of gun violence” and how to prevent it, including researching new technologies to improve gun safety. 

In Humboldt, Iowa, on Friday, Warren was asked by reporters about Walmart’s plan to remove violent video games from its shelves, but continue to sell firearms. 

“Look, I think it would be more effective if, instead of taking down pictures of guns, they actually stopped selling guns,” she said. 

Warren’s plan doesn’t specifically call out Walmart, but it does provide for ways to hold gun dealers accountable if they break the law or if their products are used for violence. 

“I think Walmart should be the leader,” she told reporters when asked why candidates are calling out the national chain instead of other dealers. “I remember back in 2014 when CVS stepped up and said they weren’t going to sell tobacco products anymore. That sends a big signal, and it made a difference to a lot of small stores that said, ‘You know, if they’re not going to do it I’m not going to do it either.’ And frankly, a lot of people around the country said, ‘Maybe it’s time for me to try to quit.'”

Chief politics reporter Brianne Pfannenstiel contributed to this report. 

Kim Norvell covers growth and development for the Register. Reach her at knorvell@dmreg.com or 515-284-8259.

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