MSNBC to Host 2020 Democratic Primary Gun-Policy Forum on Anniversary of Vegas Shootings

Maxwell Tani

MSNBC will host a forum with the 2020 presidential candidates focusing exclusively on gun violence.

The network announced Thursday morning that MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin will moderate the gun policy-centred event in Las Vegas on Oct. 2, the two-year anniversary of the mass shooting at a country-music festival in the city that left more than 60 people dead.

The forum will feature all 10 Democratic candidates who qualified for the third presidential debate: former Vice President Joe Biden; Sens. Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Cory Booker, and Amy Klobuchar; former Rep. Beto O’Rourke; Mayor Pete Buttigieg; former HUD Sec. Julian Castro; and businessman Andrew Yang.

“I have reported on far too many mass shootings, including the one that killed 58 Americans in Las Vegas at a music festival two years ago, and spoken with far too many victims and those impacted by these horrific events,” Melvin said in a statement provided to The Daily Beast. “Gun safety is a serious issue and an important topic our leaders face, with many Americans calling for action and change. This forum is timely opportunity for us to speak with the 2020 candidates about this issue to better understand their position and help educate our viewers.”

The network said in a statement that the entire forum will stream online on NBC News Now but will also air in portions across MSNBC programming. The 2020 Gun Safety Forum will find MSNBC partnering with former Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), a shooting survivor, and gun-control advocacy group March for Our Lives.

“This forum is an opportunity for voters to speak with and hear from the Democratic presidential candidates about their proposals on gun safety ahead of the 2020 election,” MSNBC senior executive producer Jeff Kepnes added in a statement.

A recent spate of deadly mass shootings has kept gun violence in the headlines and galvanized several Democratic presidential candidates to make gun policy a key issue in their campaigns. O’Rourke, in particular, has reoriented his 2020 bid around addressing gun violence following a deadly mass shooting last month in his hometown of El Paso, Texas.

Over the weekend, O’Rourke pushed back on Buttigieg’s argument that the ex-congressman inadvertently emboldened Republicans by calling for the government to institute a mandatory buy-back of all AR-15 and AK-47 rifles.

“Leaving millions of weapons of war on the streets because Trump and McConnell are ‘at least pretending to be open to reforms’? That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place. Let’s have the courage to say what we believe and fight for it,” O’Rourke tweeted Sunday.

Nationally televised, single-issue forums have become increasingly popular among the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates.

The Democratic National Committee has declined to host single-issue debates, and has barred the candidates from participating in debates unsanctioned by the national party. However, the rules have created an opportunity for cable-news networks to host lengthy discussions with candidates focusing on single topics. 

CNN recently held a climate-focused forum with the candidates, and MSNBC will follow suit later this month. CNN also announced this week that it will hold a candidate town hall specifically on issues that affect the LGBTQ community.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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