2020 Democratic U.S. presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) attends a health care roundtable at the Loft at the First United Methodist Church in Burlington, Iowa, U.S., August 12, 2019. REUTERS/Eric Thayer
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Kamala Harris on Wednesday released a plan to address what she termed domestic terrorism after three recent mass shootings in a week that resulted in the deaths of 34 people.
Harris, a U.S. senator from California, said that communities across the United States such as Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, where the recent shootings occurred, have been “traumatized by domestic terrorism and gun violence.”
Harris said that, if elected president, she would pursue passing a law that would allow individuals to petition federal courts to temporarily restrict a person’s access to firearms if they show signs of plans to commit a hate crime by making racist threats or issuing anti-immigrant manifestos.
The El Paso shooter, who is white, posted a screed online about a “Hispanic invasion of Texas” shortly before opening fire at a Walmart on Aug. 3 in a rampage that left 22 dead.
Harris clarified that her previously announced plan to use the president’s executive power to expand background checks for firearms purchases would apply to online dealers. She would also direct the National Counterterrorism Center to study the link between global white nationalism and terrorism, and said she would ask Congress to expand the agency’s purview to include domestic terrorism.
In the plan released by her campaign, Harris, formerly California’s top prosecutor and San Francisco’s district attorney, accused Republican President Donald Trump of weakening gun laws and shifting resources away from combating violent white supremacist threats, even as racially motivated shootings continue across the United States.
Harris is fresh off a five-day swing through Iowa, which holds the first presidential nominating contest early next year. Campaigning after the three recent mass shootings, she and many of the other Democrats vying for the party’s 2020 nomination to take on Trump called for universal background checks on gun buyers, so-called “red flag” laws to limit access to guns by potentially dangerous people, and a ban on semi-automatic assault weapons.
Harris has repeatedly said that while Trump “didn’t pull the trigger, he’s been tweeting out the ammunition,” noting that the El Paso shooter used rhetoric that mirrored that used by the president.
In her policy rollout, Harris said that “there are only ‘very fine people’ on one side.” She was referring to Trump’s remark after a counterprotester was killed at a 2017 white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that there were “very fine people on both sides” at the demonstration.
Reporting by Amanda Becker; editing by Jonathan Oatis