In a week that many candidates had planned to talk agriculture plans in Iowa, the latest mass shootings over the past weekend quickly shifted the debate. At individual campaign events, multi-candidate gatherings, the State Fair and now a hastily-assembled forum in Des Moines, the Democratic contenders are pitching their plans to halt the violence.
Senator Amy Klobuchar brought it up at the start of her speeches at major events this week, and spoke briefly with Starting Line in Spirit Lake about it.
“I feel like it’s Groundhog Day, it just keeps getting more and more sad, and these weapons get more and more lethal,” Klobuchar said. “Dayton, one thing people will never forget: nine people, thirty seconds … I think most Americans look at that and wonder why that guy got that gun.”
She decided to make a point of bringing up the topic in rural areas during her 20-county Iowa swing, noting that candidates shouldn’t “shy away from it” even in areas where there’s less enthusiasm for gun reform.
Klobuchar said the Trump White House was minimizing the counter-terrorism efforts aimed at domestic, right-wing extremism.
“I would reverse that immediately, make sure we have ample resources for investigations on the federal levels and prosecutions,” Klobuchar said of her plans for the White House. Part of that, she explained, was providing more resources and training to local law enforcement to handle potential threats in their communities.
“A lot of these people maybe aren’t overtly belonging to groups, but they’re sending out signs they’re going to do this,” she noted on online activity.
“The sites have to shut down it, these are actual threats,” Klobuchar said of websites like 8chan. “They’ve got to shut those down, shut down when people are posting. The government’s gotta … if it’s a real threat, investigating it.”
Perhaps the easiest part is simply changing the rhetoric, she added.
“We’ve seen an increase in hate crimes over the last three years, it’s been documented,” Klobuchar said of Trump’s time in office. “I asked the FBI director – timely – two weeks ago about this. He said he didn’t know why, it might have been reporting, but it’s a fact that it’s happening.”
“There’s always is going to be hate … but it’s guns in their hands that kill other people. And it’s not all guns, but it’s these assault weapon, military-style assault weapons,” she continued.
One issue that any Democratic president would have to deal with is Republicans filibustering any major gun reform package if they end up in the minority. Klobuchar has not backed eliminating the filibuster, though she said it would be a moot point if Republicans kept the Senate.
However, if Democrats do retake the chamber, she suggested using the potential of ending the filibuster to pressure Republicans to pass gun reform.
“I think you need to use that as leverage, so that if they won’t play, if they won’t do things like sensible background checks, you could – it wouldn’t be my decision as president – but you could look into asking the leader, in that case Schumer, to change it,” Klobuchar said.
by Pat Rynard
Photo by Julie Fleming