Harris: 'We can do better' than red flag laws

The senator and White House hopeful pledged to take executive action as president to enact stronger gun control policies if Congress didn't act.

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By Ben Kamisar

SIOUX CITY, IOWA — Presidential hopeful Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., called on the Senate on Friday to cut its August recess short and return to Washington early in light of the recent mass shootings — and dismissed one favored congressional solution as an inadequate response.

Harris argued that the proposal currently gaining steam among Republicans — a "red flag law" that would help police temporarily restrict people who are deemed a threat to themselves or others from having firearms — was not enough.

And she told "Meet the Press" that if elected, she'd use executive action to enact universal background checks and ban the importation of assault weapons if Congress doesn't act.

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"We can do better. We need universal background checks," she said.

"I also will put in place a requirement and fund the [Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives] to put greater enforcement into taking the licenses of gun dealers who violate the law," she added.

"Do you know 90 percent of the guns that are connected with crime are just sold by 5 percent of the gun dealers? We need to take their licenses," she said, adding that she was "prepared, by executive action, to ban the importation of assault weapons into our country."

Harris' comments come in the wake of deadly shootings in Gilroy, California, El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio, that left dozens dead and dozens more injured.

Recent congressional efforts to re-enact the "assault weapon ban" and pass universal background checks have stalled, even after high-profile mass shootings.

President Donald Trump said Friday that "we have tremendous support for really common sense, sensible, important background checks" and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has said the Senate will look into expanding background checks and strengthening "red flag laws" in response to the shooting.

But Democratic leaders have expressed skepticism that the momentum will turn into a legislative victory, with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., warning in a letter to the president that McConnell has historically "been an obstacle to taking any action."