(CNN)Sen. Kamala Harris on Monday pledged that, if elected President, she would take executive action enacting sweeping gun control measures if Congress fails to send comprehensive legislation to her desk in her first 100 days.”Enough,” says the fact sheet outlining the proposals that the campaign plans to unveil publicly tomorrow. “We’re not waiting any longer.”The pledge by Harris to act unilaterally by executive action sharpens her repeated calls on the campaign trail, blasting Congress for failing to act on gun violence, especially mass shootings.Last weekend at her town hall in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Harris told the crowd, “It is a false choice to suggest you are either in favor of the Second Amendment or you want to take everyone’s guns away. We need leaders in Washington, D.C., who have the courage to speak the truth.”The plan, as outlined in her proposal, aims to move closer to federal universal background checks, a first-step move the campaign calls “mandated near-universal background checks.” The campaign says this 100-day pledge is just part of the gun safety agenda Harris will pursue as President.”These are practical solutions and will save lives,” said Kris Brown, president of the gun safety group the Brady Campaign. The Brady Bill, passed a quarter decade ago, was a powerful tool requiring federal background checks. But as the Internet came of age, private sellers increasingly turned to the web and were not required to conduct background checks under the law.Harris’ proposal, said Brown, would update the federal law with modern times.”What people want is for dangerous people to not have easy access to guns,” Brown said. “When I look at each of these proposals, that’s what she’s achieving.”The proposal comes from the decades-long former prosecutor who recently pointed out that she herself is a gun owner.Harris’ pledge lays out four points. The first would mandate what the proposal calls “near-universal background checks by requiring anyone who sells five or more guns per year to run a background check on all gun sales.” The target is to classify that seller of more than five guns as a dealer of firearms. A recent CNN investigation highlighted the problem of unlicensed gun dealing in America. An aide said the campaign read the investigation as it was crafting the proposal.Another part of Harris’ proposal would revoke the licenses of gun manufacturers and dealers who break the law and, for the worst cases, the Harris plan would make them criminally liable. It would also fine gun corporations up to $500,000 for each violation, using that money for community-based violence intervention programs and mental health treatment. Currently, a 2005 law called the Protection of Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) shields the gun industry from liability when third parties use weapons for criminal purposes, but not from the federal government, argues Harris.Harris’ plan also reverses a Trump administration action that narrowed the definition of “fugitive from justice,” which allows a gun sale unless a person can be shown to have fled a state for the purpose of avoiding charges. Anyone with an outstanding arrest warrant would be denied from purchasing a gun under Harris’ proposal.The Harris plan also expands a federal law that prohibits gun sales to domestic violence abusers. Currently, federal law prohibits those sales to a married partner convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors. Harris would apply that law where an abuser is a dating partner.The Harris campaign makes clear this is an opening salvo in a larger part of her gun safety agenda. Harris has pledged on the campaign trail to enact universal background checks, renew the assault weapons ban and prohibit those convicted of a federal hate crime from purchasing guns.”The politics on gun safety have absolutely changed,” said Peter Ambler, executive director and co-founder of Giffords, the gun safety organization founded by and bearing the name of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot while in office.Ambler recalled that John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, once donned a duck hunting outfit to align himself to gun owners. Today, many of the Democratic candidates routinely talk about fighting the NRA and gun safety measures.But the shift in Democratic sentiment on gun legislation is likely to haunt at least one contender. Sen. Bernie Sanders in 2005 voted for the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act, the law that Harris is targeting in her gun policy rollout. During the 2016 presidential race, Hillary Clinton blasted Sanders for the vote that led to the law shielding the gun industry. Sanders pledged at the time he would act to repeal it.”It has gone from the third rail to a main issue that will provide a key contrast to Donald Trump,” Ambler said. “Being first with a proposal like this speaks to Sen. Harris’ courage and the degree to which she’s speaking to the issue. It’s a bold proposal.”
Democratic House Caucus Chairman Hakeem Jeffries defended his party’s push for a universal background check bill Wednesday, claiming that any enforcement of the legislation — including federal firearm registration — will be left to the Department of Justice to decide.
Efforts to expand federal firearm background checks to all private sales could eventually lead to federal firearms registration, a potential that worries some Second Amendment advocates and sympathetic Republicans.
“The Department of Justice and the FBI will have primary responsibility for enforcing the requirements that we hope will be enacted into law consistent with the values of the overwhelming majority of the American people,” Jeffries said. (RELATED: Congress To Take Up Gun Control This Week)
“This is a discussion that we should be having in the United States Congress as it relates to the gun violence epidemic in the United States of America, particularly on the eve of the tragedy that took place in Parkland,” Jeffries continued.
Republican North Carolina Rep. Richard Hudson, author of the National Reciprocity Act of 2017, said in response to Jeffries, “That sounds to me like a registry is a possibility if you have an attorney general that wants one.”
House Judiciary Committee members marked up the Bipartisan Background Checks Act of 2019 on Wednesday, previously citing the upcoming anniversary of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14. (RELATED: House To Move Forward With Gun Control Proposals)
“How would H.R. 8 be enforced? If someone obtains a gun without getting a background check, it would seem that’s not going to come to light until that gun is used,” Republican Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert said during the markup committee hearing.
While the current bill restricts any formation directly or indirectly of a national firearms registry, Democrats on the committee see this legislation as a first step and support a federal registry in some way.
Democratic California Rep. Karen Bass, a fellow Judiciary Committee member, says the enforcement question is a “good one” but could not provide information “beyond ATF and the resources around that.” When asked by the Caller if she would prefer to see a mandatory federal firearms registry, Bass replied: “Not right now.”
“The truth of the matter is the gun is registered to somebody,” Democratic Louisiana Rep. Cedric Richmond, another Judiciary Committee member, told the Caller. “So, if somebody wanted to violate the law then that’s on them, but to detect that they violated [the law] when the new person either registers it or are caught in possession of it, the question will become how did they get the gun and if they say they purchased it.”
He added, “The question becomes why didn’t they go through the required federal law?”
Richmond says he would also like to see a mandatory federal gun registry.
“I would not mind seeing a gun registry. I really wouldn’t. I think I filed that bill when I was in the Louisiana legislature. I think I filed a registry. I think I filed ballistic fingerprints and assault weapons ban. So, I’m at the other end of the spectrum. I don’t mind.”
Richmond, though, says he does not think Democrats in Congress are ready to move legislation to support a federal firearms registry right now.
“This bill sounds good when you hear universal background checks. It sounds like a great idea, but once you realize that every gun sale in America, commercial gun sale, has a background check,” said Hudson, “and if someone’s not running a background check, they’re breaking the law. Let’s enforce the laws we have.”
Hudson also warned that an attorney general can financially exclude individuals from performing background checks, thereby denying firearms to individuals.
“Any attorney general and any local officials could set the price for running a background check for a person so high that individuals couldn’t afford to do it. So, what if they said it cost $5000 to run a background check at a gun store? Well, most Americans can’t afford that,” Hudson noted. “So those are two of the different levers that they intend to use to limit law-abiding gun owners from purchasing guns.”
Chicago police officer and two other people were killed in an attack at a South Side hospital Monday afternoon that sent medical personnel and police scrambling through halls, stairwells and even the nursery in search of victims and the shooter before he was found dead.
Officer Samuel Jimenez, on the force less than two years, was gunned down as he went to the aid of other officers who had been called to Mercy Hospital & Medical Center around 3:20 p.m. about an assault. Jimenez, 28, was married with three small children. He’s the second Chicago police officer killed in the line of duty this year, the most since 2010 when five officers were fatally shot. The first was Near North District Cmdr. Paul Bauer, killed Feb. 13 outside the Thompson Center.
“Those officers that responded today saved a lot of lives,” said Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson. “They were heroes because we just don’t know how much damage (the shooter) was prepared to do.”
Police had been called to the hospital after Juan Lopez, 32, confronted emergency room doctor Tamara O’Neal, apparently over a “broken engagement,” sources said. By the time Jimenez and his partner arrived on the scene, Lopez had shot O’Neal repeatedly, standing over her as he fired the last shots, according to police sources and witnesses.
“When they pulled up, they heard the gunshots, and they did what heroic officers always do — they ran toward that gunfire,” Johnson said. “So they weren’t assigned to that particular call, but they went because that’s what we do.”
Lopez, who sources say had a concealed carry license, exchanged gunfire with Jimenez and other officers as he ran into the hospital. Jimenez was shot in the lobby as Lopez continued firing. A squad car was hit, and a bullet hit the holster and lodged in the gun barrel of another officer, according to Johnson.
Dayna Less, 25, a first-year pharmacy resident, was hit as she walked out of an elevator. “That woman got off an elevator and was shot, why?” Johnson asked. Lopez was found inside the hospital, apparently suffering a wound to the head. Johnson said it was unclear how he was shot.
At a press conference late Monday night, Emergency Department director Patrick Connor grew emotional as he described O’Neal as dedicated to her church and patients. The 38-year-old physician graduated from the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago in 2016 and had worked as a resident at Mercy for two years. She raised money for disadvantaged children and led her church choir, Connor said, choking up with emotion and pausing frequently.
“That was her one thing she wanted … to be able to go to church on Sunday,” Connor said, adding that they assured her she could. “We’ll make sure you go to church on Sunday.”
Less recently graduated from Purdue University and started working at the hospital in July.
Michael Davenport, Mercy’s chief medical officer, said the hospital had conducted an active shooter drill last month. About 200 patients were being treated in the hospital on Monday, but authorities only evacuated the emergency room. The hospital’s emergency plans include barricading doors and ensuring patient safety.
In the confusion of the first moments, it was unclear how many people were shot, how many officers were among them and how many shooters there were.
As dispatchers and responding officers tried to make sense of the scene, reports came in of an officer shot somewhere in the lobby, a woman and an assistant also wounded. Finally, there was word of the gunman apparently shot in the head.
Even then, dispatchers continually checked on officers’ status and whether another gunman might still be on the loose.
“How many officers shot?” a dispatcher asked repeatedly.
“Trying to find that out,” an officer radioed.
Officers rushed to lock down the first floor of the hospital for a search, then closed off the stairwells. “We’re checking for victims,” a dispatcher said. “We also need officers on the third floor to check the nursery.”
By 4 p.m., the officer was being taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center, where he died.
Meanwhile, medical personnel continued to be brought out of the hospital by police, who radioed ahead to warn officers outside. At 4:40 p.m., the hospital tweeted that “patients are safe.”
Steven Mixon, an emergency room clerk, said he had received a call hours earlier, around 1 p.m., from a man he believed to be the ex-fiance of the woman shot outside the hospital. “He called and asked to speak with his fiancee,” said Mixon. “And she said, ‘Oh, just tell him I’m in with a patient.’ ”
Mixon said he got off work around 3 p.m. and waited for an Uber in front of the hospital. “I look up and I see her being harassed by some gentleman,” he said. “She was trying to avoid him and move around. And when she saw me, she waved for me to come that way.”
Mixon said he started to run toward his colleague to help when Lopez fired. “I guess it wasn’t my time to go because if I had made it to her, I would have been dead too,” Mixon said.
He watched as the gunman then shot at a police car and shot again at the woman, who had fallen to the ground. Mixon said he ran back into the emergency room, where it was “total chaos.”
“Everyone was running every which way,” he said. “We ran into surgery because they had locked doors. That’s when we heard more shots inside the hospital.”
Mixon said he remembers the woman looking beautiful this year at the hospital’s annual gala. “She was a sweetheart, just a sweetheart. What a fireball.
“Before all this, she was looking forward to getting married,” he said. “Talking about dresses, all of that. But then something happened and it was called off.”
James Gray was coming out of the clinic area when he said he saw a man in a black coat, black hat and dark pants shoot a woman three times in the chest. The man and the woman had been walking and talking to each other before the shooting, he said. The gunman stood over the woman and shot her three more times after she fell to the ground, said Gray. Then a squad car turned its lights on and came down the drive and the gunman shot at the squad car.
“It was chaos,” said Gray. “It was just mass chaos.”
Former Obama administration Attorney General Eric Holder defended the use of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants to spy on the Trump campaign Monday, during an interview with comedian Stephen Colbert.
Colbert asked Holder how many FISA warrants are issued on a yearly basis. Holder was unable to come up with an answer and joked about how many he’s signed. (RELATED: Alan Dershowitz Pushes For More FISA Warrants To Be Made Public)
“No idea. I signed a lot,” Holder said on “The Late Show.” “A lot, a lot, a lot. That’s more than a little.”
Holder also said he’s glanced at the FISA warrant regarding former Trump adviser Carter Page, but has not read it in full.
“I’ve looked at it. I’ve not read it fully, no,” he replied. Holder said President Donald Trump should not feel exonerated by the release of the FISA warrant and slammed California GOP Rep. Devin Nunes for his work on bringing the information to light.
“I’m serious, if you look at it, it goes totally contrary to that which he says it’s going to contain. Devin Nunes is proven to be totally wrong,” Holder said. “It is really one of these questions of ‘who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?’ You just look at it and you can see that it is — as I said, paints just a totally different picture than what the House Republicans and this president has said.”
Holder claimed the warrant wasn’t strictly based on the Steele dossier, but a litany of facts and evidence he failed to mention during the interview.
“There are these things called facts, and then there’s this other stuff,” Holder concluded. “They still exist. The sun’s the center of the solar system, that’s still true. There are certain facts. And if you look at this FISA warrant, you will see that it is not simply based, as they’ve been trying to say — it’s all based on the Steele dossier. It is clear that it is not.”
Former President Barack Obama encouraged gun control proponents on Friday to stay committed to securing new gun laws “no matter how long it takes.”
Friday was National Gun Violence Awareness Day.
Obama tweeted that gun control proponents must not only push for a change in laws, but also in “leadership” to secure the new laws:
This National Gun Violence Awareness Day, show your commitment to keeping our kids safe from gun violence. Then, for everyone we’ve lost, take action to change our leadership and our laws until they reflect that commitment – no matter how long it takes. https://twitter.com/ofa/status/1002554110519009280 …
The Hill reports that Obama’s “progressive group,” Organizing for Action (OFA), also put out calls on Friday for more gun laws, urging gun control proponents to “call on Congress to end gun violence.”
Neither Obama nor OFA shared specifics on which laws Congress could pass to constrain criminals without also making it harder for law-abiding citizens to get the guns they need for self-defense. During Obama’s time in the White House, he supported universal background checks and “assault weapons” bans, among other things. But California has both these laws–and many, many more–yet they also frequently have high-profile shootings.