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2020 Sunday Trail Markers: Where the candidates stand on guns

Trump reacts to deadly mass shootings
Trump reacts to deadly mass shootings 01:43

Here's what you need to know in politics this week...

  • Where the candidates stand on guns
  • 2020 Dems angered by "another mass shooting," decry congressional inaction
  • Dems descend on Iowa state fair
  • This week's schedule


While President Trump makes no secret of his affection for legal gun ownership and the NRA, some Democratic candidates want sweeping changes to gun laws, including the registration and licensing of new firearms. Here's a rundown on where some of the 2020 candidates stand on the issue in the aftermath of the horrific mass shootings in Dayton and El Paso over the weekend. 

SEN. CORY BOOKER released a plan in May that CBS News Campaign Reporter Jack Turman called "the most extensive gun violence prevention proposal put forth by a presidential candidate to date." Booker's plan, Turman wrote, "prioritizes a gun licensing program whereby gun owners would be required to obtain a gun permit and pass an FBI background check. Under the proposal, the gun permit would be valid for up to five years." For more of his plan, click here. The senator also released a gun suicide prevention plan that can be found here

FORMER REP. JOHN DELANEY released a gun control plan in June that he says would mandate universal background checks, ban assault weapons and bump stocks, close the "boyfriend loophole" that activists say allows people who have stalked, abused or assaulted others to still buy guns, and end the ban on gun violence research. For more on his plan, click here

SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND unveiled a plan last month that she says would target gun trafficking at the federal level, expand background checks and close loopholes on gun sales, ban military-style assault weapons, and increase federal resources and gun violence accountability measures for local law enforcement. For more on her plan, click here

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS says she would give Congress 100 days to mandate near-universal background checks, revoke licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers that break law regardless of protections, close the "boyfriend loophole", ban all AR-15-style assault rifles, among other changes to existing law. For more on her plan, click here

FORMER GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER would create national standards for gun licensing, oppose concealed carry laws, fund local community-based programs to "break the cycle" of gun violence in urban areas, use new technology to stop mass shootings, institute national universal background checks, and raise the age to buy firearms to 21. For more of his plan, click here

Via CBS News Campaign Reporter Alexander Tin: Convening in southern Nevada for a labor union's annual forum this weekend, Democratic presidential candidates soon found themselves reacting to news of "another mass shooting."

"One is speechless in trying to make a rational statement about another mass shooting in this country," Sen. Bernie Sanders told reporters at the AFSCME forum in Las Vegas.

"It is deeply concerning that we have Senate leadership more concerned with pleasing the NRA, than listening to the vast majority of the American people," the Vermont independent lamented.

Saturday's shooting in El Paso, followed by another massacre overnight in Ohio, thrust frustration over congressional inaction back into the spotlight at the gathering of 19 White House hopefuls, mere minutes from the Las Vegas Strip where a gunman killed nearly 60 in 2017 in the bloodiest mass shooting in modern American history. 

"This is beyond anything we should be tolerating," said former Vice President Joe Biden on Saturday, after news broke of the attack in Texas. "We can beat the NRA. We can beat the gun manufacturers," he insisted.

News of the massacre in El Paso prompted former Texas Rep. Beto O'Rourke to abruptly cancel planned campaign events in Nevada and California, returning home to the Texas border town he used to represent.

"I just ask for everyone's strength for El Paso right now. Everyone's resolve to make sure that this does not continue to happen in this country," O'Rourke told reporters before departing the Las Vegas event, visibly shaken.

"This is really about hatred and racism and intolerance that continues to grow in this country," he later told "Face the Nation" from El Paso, accusing the president of sowing division. 

And O'Rourke, like several of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, laid the blame for the El Paso shooting at the feet of President Trump.

"I'm saying that President Trump has a lot to do with what happened in El Paso yesterday," O'Rourke added. 


Via CBS News Campaign Reporters Adam Brewster and Musadiq Bidar: Over the next two weeks, 23 Democratic presidential candidates will descend on Iowa for the State Fair and the Wing Ding Dinner in Clear Lake. At the fair, candidates will get 20 minutes at the Des Moines Register Soapbox to address crowds before heading off for retail politicking at the fair in the form of hand shaking, baby holding, pork chop flipping and fried food consumption. 

On the fair's busiest days -- the first Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- more than 100,000 people typically attend the annual event, giving candidates exposure to a large audience. The Wing Ding Dinner on Friday night will give the candidates a chance to give their pitch to Democrats from some of the more rural communities in northern Iowa.

The events are two of the critical opportunities for candidates who have less than four weeks to hit the polling and donor thresholds to qualify for the third debate in September to speak to a range of Iowans.

"I think the thing about the State Fair is, it's a great equalizer for Iowa voters," said Polk County Democrats Chair Sean Bagniewski, who added that it gives candidates a chance to speak to people who aren't attending Democratic presidential events. 

But former Democratic operative Grant Woodard says the Iowa State Fair isn't necessarily going to give lower tier candidates the boost they may be looking for, unless they can give a "remarkable speech" at the "soapbox" where candidates traditionally speak to the crowds. 

"You're not going to resurrect your campaign at the State Fair," Woodard said, adding that the event has become something candidates are expected to do, but isn't necessarily the best place for politics.

"Nobody wants to talk about (politics) there. People want to drink their beer and eat their food on a stick and go around and see the sights."

Woodard says for some candidates Labor Day will be a breaking point of whether their campaigns can continue into the fall. He says if a campaign can't put together a three day Iowa trip where the candidate is the main draw, rather than attending larger events organized by a county or local elected official, there may not be a path forward.

"If you get to Labor Day and your campaign does not have the capacity to do that, then, quite frankly, you just need to get the hell out of the race," Woodard said.

For those of you lucky to attend, or who'd like to see what we'll be trying to eat this week, here's a look at all of the food on a stick you can buy and all of the new foods we'll be taste testing in addition to the fair classics.


Iowa State Fair starts Thursday, Aug. 8!

8/5         Booker in SC & AL, Delaney in IA, Biden in CA & ID, Harris in CA, Klobuchar in CA, Inslee in NV, Sanders in CA, O'Rourke in El Paso, TX,

8/6         Booker in SC, Delaney in IA, Sanders in CA, Hickenlooper in IA, Biden in ID and CO

8/7         Booker in PA, Delaney in IA, Hickenlooper in IA, Gillibrand in IA, Klobuchar in IA, Warren in IA, Biden in IA,

8/8         Iowa State Fair begins, Delaney in IA, Hickenlooper in IA, Gillibrand in IA, Klobuchar in IA, Warren in IA, Biden in IA, Harris in IA (5 Day Bus Tour), Bullock in IA

8/9         Iowa State Wing Ding, Delaney in IA, Hickenlooper in IA, Gillibrand in IA, Warren in IA, Biden in IA, Harris in Iowa, Bullock in IA, Booker in IA

8/10       Delaney in IA, Hickenlooper in IA, Gillibrand in IA, Klobuchar in IA, Warren in IA, Harris in IA, Bullock in IA,

8/11       Delaney in IA, Booker in WI, Harris in IA. 

Julia Cherner contributed to this story. 

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