Basic Briefing

The Guns Debate

The debate on guns revolves around regulations concerning firearm ownership. Should certain people be banned from owning guns? Are there certain types of weapons that should not be sold to private citizens? Should guns be registered and should owners need permits to carry?

Official Democratic position

“We believe that the right to own firearms is subject to reasonable regulation.” The party wants to focus on enforcing existing laws, reinstating the assault weapons ban, and require background checks before all purchases. The goal of these actions is to make sure “…that guns do not fall into the hands of those irresponsible, law-breaking few.”

Official Republican position

“We uphold the right of individuals to keep and bear arms, a right which antedated the Constitution and was solemnly confirmed by the Second Amendment.” The party opposes legislation such as assault weapons bans, high-capacity magazine bans, and registering ammunition. The party believes these laws are “…intended to restrict our Second Amendment rights.”

Institutional framework

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF) is the federal agency that enforces restrictions and regulates firearms. Federal firearm laws focus mainly on who can purchase and possess a gun. There are several groups of people who are not allowed to own firearms including convicted felons, people who were involuntarily committed to a mental institution, and dishonorably discharged veterans.

States and local governments can regulate guns by requiring registration and/or permits to possess a firearm. These jurisdictions can set rules on concealed and open-carry. They can further regulate firearms by banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.

Most Vocal on Guns

These are the candidates who focus on this issue the most, with the most liberal on this issue on the left and the most conservative on this issue on the right. Click on the circles to see more information.

Mia Love | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Utah (UT) | Crowdpac Rob Wittman | Candidate for 1st Congressional District, primary (2018) in Virginia (VA) | Crowdpac Brendan Boyle | Candidate for 13th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Pennsylvania (PA) | Crowdpac Will Hurd | Candidate for 23rd Congressional District, primary (2018) in Texas (TX) | Crowdpac Greg Conlon | Candidate for US Senate, primary (2016) in California (CA) | Crowdpac Richard Nugent | 11th Congressional District (2014) in Florida (FL) | Crowdpac Joseph Kennedy | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Massachusetts (MA) | Crowdpac David Brat | Candidate for 7th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Virginia (VA) | Crowdpac Thom Tillis | Candidate for US Senate, primary (2020) in North Carolina (NC) | Crowdpac Bob Gibbs | Candidate for 7th Congressional District, primary (2018) in Ohio (OH) | Crowdpac

The Spectrum on Guns

These are the candidates who are most liberal, most conservative, and most moderate on this specific issue. Click on each candidate to see more information.

Crowdpacs tagged Guns

Relevant Committees


Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence - Founded in 1974, the largest advocacy group working to pass sensible laws and public policy that address gun violence

Everytown for Gun Safety - Partnership between Mayors Against Illegal Guns and Moms Demand Action, promotes legislation that will reduce gun violence

National Association for Gun Rights - Founded in 2001, purpose is to educate gun owners and gun rights' supporters on issues at federal and local level

National Rifle Association (NRA) Founded in 1871, largest gun rights interest group in the US