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Democratic presidential hopefuls address gun safety forum in Iowa

By
Ben Hooper
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mass., makes remarks during a Gun Safety Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI
Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Mass., makes remarks during a Gun Safety Forum in Des Moines, Iowa, on Saturday. Photo by Mike Theiler/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 10 (UPI) -- Democratic presidential hopefuls took aim at President Donald Trump and the gun lobby Saturday at a "gun safety" forum in Iowa that was organized in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio.

Seventeen candidates were scheduled to speak at the Events Center in downtown Des Moines during the Presidential Gun Sense Forum, which was organized by gun policy advocacy groups Everytown for Gun Safety Action Fund, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action.

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Candidates who addressed the forum, which was live-streamed on Facebook, took aim at Trump, congressional republications and the gun lobby.

"We've got a guy in the White House that's afraid," Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said at the event. "He's afraid of the NRA."

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The National Rifle Association of America is the largest gun rights advocacy group in the United States.

"You have for the first time put the NRA on the defensive, and that is no small thing," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. "Ten, 15 years ago nobody touched the NRA."

Multiple candidates called for bans on assault-style weapons and high capacity ammunition magazines.

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"We need a president who actually cares about this and will bring people together instead of driving them apart," said Julian Castro, the former housing secretary under the Obama administration and San Antonio mayor.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Okla., who unveiled comprehensive gun policy measures she would pursue as president just prior to the forum, criticized Walmart for pulling violent video games in the wake of the shooting while continuing to sell firearms.

"It's up to every Walmart customer who worries about the safety of her children, of her neighbors, of her friends, of people across this country to say, 'I've got choices on where I spend my money,'" she said.

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Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., also called on Walmart to end gun sales, while also calling on gun retailers to run extensive background checks on customers.

"We need background checks. Let's just start with that," she said. "And we need people to be, as I've said, responsible in the way they are selling guns. So it's not about everyone needs to stop selling guns. But we absolutely need to have checks and balances on it."

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The forum was organized in the wake of deadly shootings in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left a total 31 people dead. Former Rep. Beto O'Rourke, D-Texas, was scheduled to appear via a pre-taped video message.

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