Where the 2024 GOP candidates stand on gun control, crime

Second Amendment

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(NewsNation) — Ahead of the 2024 electionNewsNation is committed to covering the issues that matter most to voters so they can make the most informed choices possible at the polls. 

Here’s where the 2024 Republican presidential candidates stand on guns and crime:

Donald Trump

Former President Donald Trump’s views on guns and gun control in America have shifted in recent years.

While he hasn’t outlined specific plans regarding firearms if he were reelected in 2024, Trump chided Republican lawmakers for being too “scared” of the National Rifle Association to tighten gun laws in the wake of the Parkland School shooting in Florida in 2018.

He has since backed off that position, positioning himself as a staunch defender of the Second Amendment.

He has in the past warned supporters at his rallies that Democrats “will take your guns away.” In 2020, he labeled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam a “whack job” as gun rights advocates protested the Democratic governor’s moves to tighten gun laws in the aftermath of a multi-victim shooting in Virginia Beach.

Trump’s view on curtailing crime in the U.S. hinges more on law enforcement than social services.

He’s expressed a desire to give police more authority, deploy the military to fight the nation’s drug problem and impose the death penalty for convicted drug dealers. He’s also called for record funding to hire and retrain police officers, strengthen qualified immunity and increase penalties for assaults on law enforcement.

Ron DeSantis

As governor of Florida, DeSantis signed legislation allowing Florida residents to carry concealed weapons without a government-issued permit. Following the recent deadly shootings in Lewiston, Maine, DeSantis said he’s not certain if Florida’s red flag law is effective and that he would institutionalize more people with mental health issues.

DeSantis has said he thinks Florida should go even further and allow people to openly carry guns.

If elected president, DeSantis maintains he would defend the Second Amendment.

Shortly before announcing his 2024 run for president, DeSantis signed several pieces of crime legislation in Florida.

DeSantis signed a bill in May to end a unanimous jury requirement in death penalty sentencing, allowing capital punishment with jury recommendation of at least 8-4 in favor of execution.

He also signed into law a bill enhancing criminal penalties around the selling of fentanyl and fentanyl analogs that are packaged or disguised in the form of candy or other food products.

A third bill DeSantis signed requires the Florida Supreme Court to develop a uniform bond schedule for state courts to follow and bars a chief judge from setting bond below the schedule.

Nikki Haley

Haley is a self-described proponent of the Second Amendment and a concealed weapons permit holder. In 2012, she said as governor of South Carolina she would support “open carry and reciprocity with any other state.”

Haley has claimed as recently as of March that large-scale, deadly shootings are the result of a mental health crisis in the U.S. In the past, she has favored increased funding for mental health as opposed to legislation on firearms.

During her time as governor of South Carolina, Haley’s administration made efforts to prepare prisoners for life after incarceration. Inmates in the program learn a construction trade, gather computer and interview skills, craft a resume and apply for jobs online.

As governor of South Carolina, Haley signed several bills related to crime and policing where she reduced incarceration rates and recidivism. “The state’s prison population declined by about 15% during her tenure, and its recidivism rate was among the country’s lowest,” the New York Times reported.

She’s also been vocal about “bringing back law and order” and said government leaders should hold prosecutors responsible and take “care of law enforcement.”

Vivek Ramaswamy

Ramaswamy has suggested bringing back “involuntary commitment” in psychiatric institutions as a way to combat violent crime in the U.S. He’s also suggested that federal funds should be withheld from cities that “refuse to protect Americans from violent crime.”

Ramaswamy has labeled himself a “Second Amendment absolutist” and says convicted felons should be allowed to carry guns. He has also called for a shutdown of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF).

Chris Christie

Christie has said that his position on guns has evolved, and he does not support an assault weapons ban. He’s said that gun control would not stop “mass shootings” and that his focus is on addressing mental health struggles first.

Like Ramaswamy, he has expressed support for “making involuntary commitment easier,” before someone who may be going through a mental health crisis can commit a crime.

During his time as governor of New Jersey, Christie worked with Democrats to enact bail reform, effectively eliminating cash bail. Christie has defended the reforms despite criticisms from Republicans labeling him as soft on crime.

Doug Burgum

North Dakota implemented criminal justice reform under Gov. Greg Burgum, including a bill to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for some drug offenses. During the first Republican debate, Burgum suggested “small-town values” could help reduce gun crime.

In 2021, Burgrum designated North Dakota as a “Second Amendment Sanctuary State,” signing a range of bills protecting gun rights.

“Both the U.S. Constitution and North Dakota Constitution recognize our citizens’ inalienable right to keep and bear arms, and designating North Dakota as a Second Amendment Sanctuary State sends a strong message to Congress and the White House that we will firmly resist any attempts to infringe on those rights,” Burgum said.

Asa Hutchinson

Hutchinson said his administration would work to increase transparency and ensure consistency across agencies and rebuild trust between law enforcement and the American people.

In his proposal, he advocates for urgent reform in federal law enforcement, citing concerns about politicization and bias that have undermined public trust. The proposed reforms prioritize accountability for all enforcement actions — by requiring agent interviews to be recorded, for instance — without undercutting the mission of public safety and protecting the nation, ABC News reported.

Following a school shooting in Nashville, Tennessee, Hutchinson advocated for the placement of armed officers in every school, the Arkansas Advocate reported.

Concerning crime, the former Arkansas governor said, “It’s not just a big city issue.“We see fentanyl in our rural cities, we see the challenge of the smash-and-grab,” he said during a recent appearance on MSNBC. “And there’s a simple solution here” Enforce the law. And whenever we see flagrant disregard of the law, whether it is violence or there’s not follow-up enforcement, you’re going to see it continue.”

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