Sen. Bernie Sanders. (Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0)

Expanding background checks, renewing the assault weapons ban and outlawing the sale of high-capacity magazines are among 10 things Americans can do to save their lives and those of their neighbors, said Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders in a letter to supporters sent Thursday.

“Here is the very sad truth,” the Vermont senator began. “[I]t is very difficult for the American people to keep up with the mass shootings we seem to see every day in the news. Yesterday, San Bernardino. Last week, Colorado Springs. Last month, Colorado Springs again. Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, Isla Vista, Virginia Tech, Navy Yard, Roseburg, and far too many others.

“The crisis of gun violence has reached epidemic levels in this country to the point that we are averaging more than one mass shooting per day. Now, I am going to tell you something that most candidates wouldn’t say: I am not sure there is a magical answer to how we end gun violence in America. But I do know that while thoughts and prayers are important, they are insufficient and it is long past time for action.

“We can close loopholes in our laws that allow perpetrators of stalking and dating violence to buy guns,” Sanders suggests. “We should close the loophole that allows prohibited purchasers to buy a gun without a completed background check after a three-day waiting period expires,” and Americans could “expand and improve our mental health capabilities […] so that people who need care can get care when they need it, regardless of their level of income.”

Congress could also close the “terror gap,” a case of federal negligence in which, since 2004, 2,000 people on the FBI’s terrorist watch list have been allowed to legally purchase guns in the United States.

“Earlier today,” Sanders added, “the U.S. Senate voted against non-binding legislation to expand background checks, close the “terror gap,” and improve our mental health systems. I voted for all three, although each of them came up short.

“They failed for the same reason the bipartisan Manchin-Toomey legislation failed in 2013, just months after the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School: because of the financial political power of a gun lobby that has bought candidates and elections for the better part of the last several decades.

“In 2014 alone, the gun lobby spent over $30 million on political advertising and lobbying to influence legislators in Congress and state capitals across the country. And just last month, it was reported that the Koch brothers made a $5 million contribution to the NRA.

“Americans of all political stripes agree. It’s time to address the all too common scene of our neighbors being killed. It’s time to pass a common sense package of gun safety legislation. 

“With your help, that’s what we’ll do when I’m president.”

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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