Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) pushed her gun control agenda in an interview Wednesday with CNN's Wolf Blitzer during the Philadelphia police shooting. Harris, speaking of the El Paso shooting, said President Trump may not have pulled the trigger but he did supply the ammunition with "racist rhetoric." Harris said law enforcement should be allowed to seize guns from those "suspected to be involved" in domestic terrorism.
"I'm prepared to say that law enforcement should be allowed to seize the guns of those who are suspected to be involved in domestic terrorism," Harris said.
"I agree with Harry Reid that if Congress is going to continue to do what it's been doing, which is to obstruct progress for partisan purposes, then we do need to get rid of it. I agree with that," Harris said of the filibuster in the Senate.
Transcript, via CNN:
WOLF BLITZER, CNN: The situation in Philadelphia is hours after Democratic presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris released a details plan to expand gun background checks and fight white supremacy and domestic terrorism. Kamala Harris serves on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees.
Very disturbing development. You're former attorney general of California, what is your reaction to the initial reports -- and I stress the words initial reports?
SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When will it stop, right?
Part of my focus on what we need to do around smart gun safety laws is recognize we have to have more enforcement around gun dealers.
Wolf, 90 percent of the guns that are associated with crime are sold by just 5 percent of the gun dealers in the United States. And so among the many plans that have I both in the form of executive action and also in the form of legislation, one of them is to put more resources into the ATF to take the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law.
And that includes a number of things, including when they are responsible for doing background checks, not doing them.
BLITZER: So but does your plan go, from your perspective, far enough?
HARRIS: Well, there are a variety of things. Let's be clear, I have -- I have hugged too many mothers of homicide victims over the years. I have looked at more autopsy photographs than I care to tell you of people whose lives have been ended because of gun violence.
We need Congress to act. We do not lack for good ideas. We do not lack for tragedies. The failure of Congress, however, the United States Congress, to act on passing smart gun safety laws is the issue.
So when elected, I'll give the United States Congress 100 days to pull their act together and put a bill on my desk for signature and if they do not, I am prepared to take executive action, to, one, put in place a comprehensive background check requirement to put the resources into the ATF to take the licenses from gun dealers who violate the law and, three, to ban the importations of --
BLITZER: Just to be precise, you want to give Congress 100 days and then take executive action. Some people say Congress, you know what, given the 60 votes needed in the Senate, not going to do it.
Why not take executive action on day one?
HARRIS: Well, I believe in giving people a chance, especially when they know what is coming if they don't act. But the other piece of my focus on this is, as you said, it is about dealing with the white supremacist issue that we have and the domestic terrorism that is resulting from it.
BLITZER: Because people are going to be killed in those first 100 days.
HARRIS: Well, there is no question we need to act immediately. And the failure of Congress to act over these decades is also a point that you should make in terms of what we're seeing now and what we've been seeing, from Charleston and Mother Emmanuel Church to El Paso.
So part of my focus is not only dealing with gun sales and background check requirements but addressing the issue of domestic terrorism. So I'm going to tell you a couple of things.
One, I'm prepared to require online background checks. So there is an organization that sells online, armslist.com. And Arms List is like the craigslist of gun dealers. They're not required to do background checks. So what I'm prepared to do is require that they have to do background checks before they could --
BLITZER: And this would you do through executive action, assuming Congress doesn't act.
BLITZER: Because Joe Biden, the former vice president, one of your rivals for the nomination, he responded to your approach, and I'll quote him, by saying, "What happens if the next guy comes along and he wipes it all out?"
In other words if you take executive action, the next president, assuming it is a Republican, he can order or she can order a totally different executive action, wiping out all of -- the beauty of having a law is it stays in effect.
HARRIS: But as Vice President Biden well knows, where Congress fails to act, then it is incumbent on the executive branch of government to act. And so, where Congress fails to act, I am prepared -- when, God willing, elected president of the United States, I'm prepared to act through executive action.
And let us also be clear, doing nothing is not an option. Doing nothing is not an option, so I'm prepared to do that. I'm prepared to say that we should include domestic terrorism as part of what is the focus of our counterterrorism organizations, our federal law enforcement organizations.
I'm prepared to say that law enforcement should be allowed to seize the guns of those who are suspected to be involved in domestic terrorism. Similar to a TRO, they're going to have to prove and have reason to suspect that somebody might be a terrorist, but giving federal law enforcement the authority to actually seize the guns of those who may be an imminent threat to their community or their family.
BLITZER: You know the law. You're a former attorney general of California. Assuming you take this kind of executive action on gun control, there are going to be attorneys -- attorneys general out there who are going to take legal action to delay it, get into court. This could prolong the situation dramatically.
HARRIS: Wolf, there is no excuse not to act. There will be those who are going to try and undo it, but if you follow that line of analysis, we would not have -- we would not have gone for things like DACA. We would not have for legislation like the Affordable Care Act.
There are always going to be people, especially people who years (ph) the -- use their power and authority for a political agenda to try and undo progress. That is not an excuse, much less a reason to not act.
BLITZER: You got a very detailed plan, and if you -- if the Congress were to act, at least right now, you would need 60 votes in the Senate. And you're a senator. Harry Reid, the former Senate Majority Leader, wrote this among other things today.
If a Democratic president wants to tackle the most important issues facing our country, then he or she must have the ability to do so, and that means curtailing Republicans' ability to stifle the will of the American people.
In the past you said you're conflicted on the whole issue of the filibuster. But do you agree with Harry Heid, it's time to do away with the filibuster and simply have, as the House of Representatives have, a simple majority to pass legislation?
HARRIS: I agree with Harry Reid that if Congress is going to continue to do what it's been doing, which is to obstruct progress for partisan purposes, then we do need to get rid of it. I agree with that.
BLITZER: Well, but you know that it's a two-edged sword because it helps the Democrats sometimes if there is a Republican --
HARRIS: Well, and to you point, that is why -- listen, let's be clear about the benefits, right? So I go into this clear-eyed. Any hesitance that I have expressed is because I go into it clear-eyed. There are those who wanted to get rid of funding for Planned Parenthood and other types of organizations and the filibuster was the only thing that held them at bay.
And so, the filibuster, you're right, has been a tool that, especially when Democrats are in the minority --
HARRIS: -- has helped to protect the people that need protecting. But Harry Reid, you know, a great American leader and a brilliant American leader, he absolutely is right that it has also been used in a way that has been about blocking progress in our country. And so, this may be the time that we remove that tool.
BLITZER: In your plan today, you deal with the issue of White supremacist violence out there --
BLITZER: -- domestic terrorism. You say this -- you say that while President Trump didn't pull a trigger, he's been tweeting out the ammunition.
BLITZER: Explain what you mean because that's a very, very strong accusation against the President.
HARRIS: It means exactly what it says. He didn't actually pull the trigger on the gun in El Paso, but he has certainly been tweeting out ammunition, meaning tweeting out hateful rhetoric, racist rhetoric, rhetoric that is inciting people to feel a sense of division among us, and clearly, with an intention to divide and sow hate in our country. There is no question about it. He uses Twitter like a weapon. And a weapon to divide the people of our country.
BLITZER: So if you were president, how would you deal with this apparently increasing ideology of hate that is out there?
HARRIS: Well, let's also be clear about it, and I have -- I have prosecuted hate crimes. I, as attorney general of the state of 40 million people, on an annual basis, published hate crime reports.
Hate crime is not new in the United States. It long preceded this president, it will exist afterward, and so let's speak truth about that. Hate crime being racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, transphobia, Islamophobia. These issues have always existed in our country, but they've received new fuel under this president.
And we're going to have to confront it on a number of levels, including having a president of the United States who understands that that microphone she holds should be always used in a way that is about lifting people up and not beating them down. That's not what we've seen with the current president of the United States, and we are seeing the consequences of that.