John Edwards on Gun Control
2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)
A: That’s fair, but I haven’t changed my position on this. I’m against it. It is enormously important to protect people’s Second Amendment rights. The assault weapons ban, as president I’ll do everything in my power to reinstate it. But we need a president who understands the sportsmen, hunters who use their guns for lawful purposes have a right to have their Second Amendment rights.
A: There are problems with the instant background check system that we have today. That needs to be fixed. Those problems became obvious with the shooting at Virginia Tech. There are other things that need to be done, like closing the gun show loophole, and I believe in the Second Amendment, but I don’t believe you need an AK-47 to hunt. And I think we need to renew the assault weapons ban for that reason. But I also want to join in the idea that in addition to guns specifically and trying to do something to limit gun violence, we also need to create hope for so many young African-American men who think they’re either going to die or go to prison. They don’t see any hope whatsoever in their lives, which means we need to bring good jobs into the inner city so that they can support themselves, support their families.
EDWARDS: I grew up in the rural South. Everyone around me hunted, everyone had guns. I respect and believe in people’s Second Amendment rights. That does not, however, mean that somebody needs an AK-47 to hunt. It does not mean that somebody who’s been convicted of a violent crime should be able to walk out of prison, walk across the street and buy a gun. It does not mean that we shouldn’t take every step that we can take to keep guns safe and keep guns out of the hands of kids. So, my belief is, first, I defend people’s Second Amendment rights, but I don’t think it’s without limit.
Q: What federal gun control measures you would propose?
EDWARDS: I think we should extend the Brady Bill, which is set to expire. I think that we need to close forever the gun-show loophole, [to avoid criminals] buying a gun. I think it does make sense to have trigger locks for the purpose of keeping guns safe from children.
Howard Dean proudly tells audiences that the NRA endorsed him as governor of Vermont, and that he would leave most gun laws to the states. Dick Gephardt, a longtime gun control advocate, is careful to highlight his support for law-abiding gun owners. John Edwards says, “Guns are about independence. They don’t want people messing with that.“
As a result, Democratic strategists predict the debate over gun laws in this campaign will be less divisive. Democrats might fight for narrow proposals to make guns safer and more difficult for children and criminals to obtain, they said, yet voters are likely to hear as much about enforcing existing gun laws as creating new ones-a position Republicans and the NRA have pushed for years.
Make America the “Safest Big Country” in the World
After climbing relentlessly for three decades, crime rates started to fall in the 1990s. Nonetheless, the public remains deeply concerned about the prevalence of gun violence, especially among juveniles, and Americans still avoid public spaces like downtown retail areas, parks, and even sports facilities.
We need to keep policing “smart” and community-friendly, prohibiting unjust and counterproductive tactics such as racial profiling; focus on preventing as well as punishing crime; pay attention to what happens to inmates and their families after sentencing; use mandatory testing and treatment to break the cycle of drugs and crime; and enforce and strengthen laws against unsafe or illegal guns. Moreover, we need a renewed commitment to equal justice for all, and we must reject a false choice between justice and safety.
Technology can help in many areas: giving police more information on criminal suspects so they do not rely on slipshod, random stop-and-search methods; allowing lower-cost supervision of people on probation or parole; and making it possible to disable and/or trace guns used by unauthorized persons.
Above all, we need to remember that public safety is the ultimate goal of crime policy. Until Americans feel safe enough to walk their neighborhood streets, enjoy public spaces, and send their children to school without fear of violence, we have not achieved public safety.
|Other candidates on Gun Control:||John Edwards on other issues:|
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader