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

The Democratic Party believes “we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of many communities, too many families in America have suffered from gun violence.” The Party supports expansion and strengthening of background checks, and closing loopholes in current laws. They support repealing “the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and [keeping] weapons of war… off our streets.”

Official Republican position

The Republican Party upholds “the right of individuals to keep and bear arms ... Lawful gun ownership enables Americans to exercise their God-given right of selfdefense for the safety of their homes, their loved ones, and their communities.” The Party supports “firearm reciprocity legislation … [and] constitutional carry statutes.” They “oppose ill-conceived laws that would restrict magazine capacity or ban the sale of the most popular and common modern rifle. We also oppose any effort to deprive individuals of their right to keep and bear arms without due process of law.”

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.

Hakeem Jeffries | 8th Congressional District, 2016 in New York (NY) | Crowdpac Elizabeth Warren | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Massachusetts (MA) | Crowdpac Kyrsten Sinema | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in Arizona (AZ) | Crowdpac Kevin De Leon | Candidate for U.S. Senate, 2018 Primary Election in California (CA) | Crowdpac Vic Kohring | U.S. Senate, 2014 in Alaska (AK) | Crowdpac Robin Kelly | Candidate for 2nd Congressional District, 2018 in Illinois (IL) | Crowdpac Paul Clements | Candidate for 6th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in Michigan (MI) | Crowdpac Don Beyer | Candidate for 8th Congressional District, 2018 in Virginia (VA) | Crowdpac Brendan Boyle | Candidate for 2nd Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in Pennsylvania (PA) | Crowdpac Joseph Kennedy | Candidate for 4th Congressional District, 2018 Primary Election in Massachusetts (MA) | 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.

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