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COUNTDOWN TO CAUCUS, THE ISSUES: Guns, crime and criminal justice
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COUNTDOWN TO CAUCUS, THE ISSUES: Guns, crime and criminal justice


Three mass shootings within a week of each other — at a festival in California, a Walmart in Texas, and a bar in Ohio — thrust gun control laws into the Democratic presidential primary in late July and early August of last year.

The Democratic candidates also have spent a lot of time on the campaign trail talking about various proposals for criminal justice reform.

Four people were killed in California, 22 in Texas and 10 in Ohio in those shootings, and dozens more were injured. The shootings sparked renewed calls for a ban on military-style assault weapons and magazines that are able to hold a large number of bullets, policies that most of the Democratic candidates support.

There also is near unity in the field on expanding the use of background checks and banning gun ownership for people who have been convicted of domestic abuse or hate crimes.

Some candidates, like Joe Biden, support a government buyback program for assault weapons. The former vice president has proposed current assault weapon owners would have two options: to sell those guns back to or have them registered with the federal government.

Biden and Elizabeth Warren are among candidates proposing to make gun manufacturers liable for gun violence.

Criminal justice reform has become a popular issue for voters — of both major political parties — as communities attempt to deal with prison over-crowding and laws and sentences that appear to disproportionately impact minorities.

A common proposal for criminal justice reform is a ban on for-profit prisons. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, for example, have proposed such a ban.

Many of the candidates support the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Biden, for one, proposes leaving that decision to the states.

But Biden joins the majority of candidates who propose decriminalizing marijuana possession and expunging all past convictions.

Many candidates, including Sanders, Warren and Biden, have proposed ending cash bail as a means to create more financial fairness in the court system.


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