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Kamala Harris evokes Sandy Hook in comment on gun law and reform

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Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a Democratic candidate in the 2020 US presidential election, decried the absence of a unified stance on gun-control during a CNN town hall at the Sheslow Auditorium in Des Moines, Iowa on Monday night.

Harris, who was answering a question from a Des Moines-based pastor, railed against Congress’ inaction following the Newtown, Connecticut, shooting in 2012, where 20 children and six adults were killed.

“This is going to sound very harsh,” Harris said to a packed audience. “I think somebody should have required all those members of Congress to go in a room, in a locked room with no press and nobody else, and look at the autopsy photographs of those babies.”

“And then you vote your conscience,” Harris added. “This has become a political issue.”

Harris advocated for “smart gun-safety laws” and highlighted the “false choice” narrative from some firearm advocates. Harris argued that “reasonable” reforms, such as universal background checks, were imperative and needed to be passed by Congress.

“You can be in favor of the Second Amendment and also understand that there is no reason in a civil society: that we have assault weapons around communities that can kill babies and police officers,” Harris said.

Private-party gun sellers and gun shows are not currently required to conduct background checks on buyers. Legislation for universal background checks is supported by a majority of Americans, including 79% of Republicans, according to the Pew Research Center.

The bipartisan proposal has eluded Congress for years, even as the death rate from firearms continued to climb in 2017. Nearly 40,000 people were killed by firearms that year, according to the latest estimates from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

In January, House Republicans and Democrats reintroduced a measure for universal background checks. The measure still faces stiff opposition from the Republican-majority Senate.

“There is no reason why we cannot have reasonable gun safety laws in this country,” Harris said. “And guess what guys? Here’s the reality of it … we’re not waiting for a good idea. We have the good ideas: an assault weapons ban, background checks.”

“We’re not waiting for a tragedy,” she added. “We have seen the worst human tragedies we can imagine. So what’s missing?”

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