Here at IGNITE, we’ve received a lot of questions from our community wanting to learn more about how your vote impacts specific issues. We will dive into your vote and its impact on mass shootings, unemployment, healthcare, racial inequality, reproductive health, and climate change. Up first, mass shootings and gun violence.
First, it’s important to understand where both presidential candidates stand. You can read Vice President Biden’s plan for gun safety here, and President Trump's five-point plan to end gun violence here. Generally, Democrats tend to support tighter restrictions on gun purchases and ownership, believing it will help prevent mass shootings and decrease gun-related violence. Republicans prefer more freedom for gun owners and users, often defending the 2nd Amendment. Any restrictions therefore would be violating a fundamental right of self-defense and ownership for hobbies like hunting.
Over the past decade, mass shootings have affected nearly every aspect of American lives from schools and restaurants to places of worship and employment, to concerts and shopping malls. As a result, there is widespread popular support for universal background checks and bans on assault weapons. However, due in large part to a Republican-controlled Senate, many of these reforms have been blocked.
This divide at the federal level has led many gun control advocates to push state legislatures for action on gun violence - many seeing their chances of success higher at the state level than in Congress. As much as you need to understand the presidential candidates and their stances, it’s almost more important to understand how gun control is decided at the state and local level.
Take Florida as an example. In 2018, after the Parkland shooting, the state legislature passed a bipartisan bill that increased the minimum age to purchase a rifle to 21 and allowed school districts to decide whether they want to arm teachers. Louisiana considered various proposals that would create a 10-day waiting period for buying a firearm. Ohio has called for tighter background checks and a ban on armor-piercing ammunition. In Vermont, “red flag” bills would allow judges to remove guns from people who pose a violent threat, whereas gun control proposals in Colorado, Kansas, and Minnesota have been voted down. This issue varies so widely from state to state.
Gun control is one of those hot-button issues that has lasting effects on our daily lives. No matter where you stand on the issue, it's important to know who is making the laws and setting the policies that impact gun safety and gun-sense laws and rights. Research the presidential candidates as well as who is on the ballot in your state, and vote for the people who align with your beliefs.
No matter how you'll vote in relation to this issue, vote to hold your representatives accountable. Use our tools to verify your status, register to vote, request an absentee ballot and find your polling place. Let's #IGNITEtheVote!