gun control

Do you support a federal assault weapons ban?

Yes, with a mandatory buyback

Yes, with a mandatory buyback

Cory Booker (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, New Jersey

Booker is no longer running for president. “Ban assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks,” Booker's gun-safety plan said. He co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019. “To me, this is very similar to the machine gun ban that we saw many years ago,” Booker told Vox. “First of all, just having an outright ban on them, [we] began to see the reduction of their existence in the hands of private citizens. I just think that we need to go as far as we possibly can in removing these weapons of war from our communities and from our streets. I know this is something that ultimately we [need to] get the Democratic Party on board with, but I would like to see a buyback program and a mandatory turnover.”

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Cory Booker
Booker

Marianne Williamson (Dropped out)

Author

Williamson is no longer running for president. “Yes, assault weapons should be banned, and we should initiate a mandatory buyback program,” Williamson told The Post.

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Marianne Williamson
Williamson

Yes, with a voluntary buyback

Yes, with a voluntary buyback

Joe Biden

Former vice president

“As president, Biden will ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Federal law prevents hunters from hunting migratory game birds with more than three shells in their shotgun. Under current law, we protect migratory game birds more than children. The ban on assault weapons will be designed to prevent manufacturers from circumventing the law by making minor changes that don’t limit the weapon’s lethality. While working to pass this legislation,” a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “Biden will also use his executive authority to ban the importation of assault weapons. Biden will also institute a program to buy back weapons of war currently on our streets. This will give individuals who now possess assault weapons or high-capacity magazines two options: Sell the weapons to the government, or register them under the National Firearms Act.”

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Joe Biden
Biden

Michael Bennet (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Colorado

Bennet is no longer running for president. Bennet supports a federal assault weapons ban and a voluntary buyback program, he told The Post.

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Michael Bennet
Bennet

Mike Bloomberg (Dropped out)

Former New York mayor

Bloomberg is no longer running for president. Bloomberg “supports a ban on sales of assault weapons on a going-forward basis,” a campaign spokesperson told The Post. “For people who own assault weapons prior to the enactment of an assault weapons ban, [Bloomberg] supports a law that would allow those people to keep those firearms, if they register them with the government. However, future transfers of those firearms would not be allowed, other than to a licensed dealer or to law enforcement. [Bloomberg] would support a government-funded program that enables people to sell those firearms for value to the government, if they decide that they no longer want to own them. This policy is sometimes called a "voluntary buyback program.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Mike Bloomberg
Bloomberg

Pete Buttigieg (Dropped out)

Former mayor, South Bend, Ind.

Buttigieg is no longer running for president. Buttigieg supports a federal assault weapons ban and a voluntary buyback program, he told The Post.

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Pete Buttigieg
Buttigieg

Julian Castro (Dropped out)

Former mayor, San Antonio

Castro is no longer running for president. Castro's gun-safety plan pledged to “renew a permanent assault weapons ban. Weapons of war do not belong in the communities of America. These firearms were designed with the singular purpose of inflicting mass human casualties. Require registration of assault weapons already owned by individuals under the National Firearms Act. Establish a buyback program through an Assault Weapons Reduction Trust Fund to purchase firearms including assault weapons and banned high capacity magazines to ensure 2021 is the high-water mark of weapons of war on American streets.”

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Julian Castro
Castro

John Delaney (Dropped out)

Former U.S. representative, Maryland

Delaney is no longer running for president. “I support a federal assault weapons ban and would be open to a voluntary buyback program,” Delaney told The Post.

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John Delaney
Delaney

Amy Klobuchar (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Minnesota

Klobuchar is no longer running for president. Klobuchar supports a federal assault weapons ban and a voluntary buyback program, she told The Post. She co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.

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Amy Klobuchar
Klobuchar

Deval Patrick (Dropped out)

Former governor, Massachusetts

Patrick is no longer running for president. Patrick supports a federal assault weapons ban and a voluntary buyback program, a campaign spokesperson told The Post.

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Deval Patrick
Patrick

Bernie Sanders (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Vermont

Sanders is no longer running for president. Sanders co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.

Candidate positions highlighted
Bernie Sanders
Sanders

Tom Steyer (Dropped out)

Billionaire activist

Steyer is no longer running for president. “Yes. I support a voluntary gun buyback program,” Steyer told The Post.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tom Steyer
Steyer

Elizabeth Warren (Dropped out)

U.S. senator, Massachusetts

Warren is no longer running for president. “Congress should again ban the future production, sale, and importation of military-style assault weapons, and require individuals already in possession of assault weapons to register them under the National Firearms Act,” Warren told The Post. “We should establish a buyback program to allow those who wish to do so to return their weapon for safe disposal, and individuals who fail to register or return their assault weapon should face penalties.” Warren co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.

Candidate positions highlighted
Elizabeth Warren
Warren

Andrew Yang (Dropped out)

Tech entrepreneur

Yang is no longer running for president. “These military-style firearms have played a major role in making mass shootings even more deadly,” a Yang spokesperson told The Post. “They should be banned, with a voluntary buy-back program, and the definition should be sufficiently flexible to handle design-arounds by the gun manufacturers.”

Candidate positions highlighted
Andrew Yang
Yang

Yes, stance on buyback unclear

Yes, stance on buyback unclear

Tulsi Gabbard (Dropped out)

U.S. representative, Hawaii

Gabbard is no longer running for president. Gabbard co-sponsored the Assault Weapons Ban of 2019.

Candidate positions highlighted
Tulsi Gabbard
Gabbard

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Background All Democratic candidates support a new federal ban on assault weapons, such as the AR-15, that have contributed to higher death tolls in mass shootings. Congress passed a federal assault weapons ban in 1994, but it lapsed in 2004, and experts remain uncertain of its effectiveness at curbing mass shootings. The candidates diverge on what should happen with existing assault weapons, with some calling for owners to voluntarily sell their assault weapons back to the government and other saying they would mandate such a program.

A September 2019 Washington Post-ABC News poll found 56 percent of the public favors an assault weapons ban, and 52 percent support a mandatory buyback program.

How candidate positions were compiled

The Washington Post sent a detailed questionnaire to every Democratic presidential campaign asking whether it supports various changes to U.S. gun policy. Candidates with similar stances were organized into groups using a combination of those answers, legislative records, action taken in an executive role, and other public comments, such as policy discussion on campaign websites, social media posts, interviews, town hall meetings and other news reports and surveys. See something we missed? Let us know.

This page will update as we learn more about the candidates’ plans. We also will note if candidates change their position on an issue. At initial publication, this page included major candidates who had announced a run for president. If a candidate dropped out after a question was published here, their stance is included under the "Show former candidates" option. If they dropped out before a question was first published, the Post did not reach out to get their stance.

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Candidate illustrations by Ben Kirchner.