Comparing stances: presidential candidates on gun ownership and regulations

Welcome to the Thursday, Oct. 22, Brew. Here’s what’s in store for you as you start your day:

  1. Comparing stances: Noteworthy presidential candidates on gun ownership and regulations
  2. Help Desk preview: How and when are election results finalized?
  3. Explore Hawaii elections
  4. Explore Tennessee elections

Comparing stances: Noteworthy presidential candidates on gun ownership and regulations

In this week’s feature comparing the four noteworthy presidential candidates’ stances on key issues, we’re looking at what the candidates say about gun regulation. As a reminder, to be considered noteworthy in the general election, candidates must appear on enough ballots to win a majority of the Electoral College.

In the past few weeks, we’ve also briefed our Brew readers on the candidates’ stances on climate change, criminal justice, abortion, China, and DACA and Dreamers.

Joe Biden (D)

Joe Biden’s campaign website states, “As president, Biden will pursue constitutional, common-sense gun safety policies. Biden will: Hold gun manufacturers accountable. Ban the manufacture and sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Buy back the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines already in our communities. Reduce stockpiling of weapons. Require background checks for all gun sales. Create an effective program to ensure individuals who become prohibited from possessing firearms relinquish their weapons. Give states incentives to set up gun licensing programs.”

Howie Hawkins (G)

Howie Hawkins’ campaign website lists some of the following gun regulation policies: “Ban and buy back military assault weapons, high-capacity magazines, and bump stocks. Universal background checks for gun and ammunition buyers, including closing the loophole for private sales and sales at gun shows, with sales and background check records maintained indefinitely in a central registry. Require all gun owners to pass a gun safety test, a visual test, and be licensed by a government agency, similar to the requirements for obtaining a driver’s license. Institute a 28-day waiting period after license application before firearms can be possessed. Expand the prohibition on the purchase and possession of guns by people convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence crimes to include people convicted of menacing, assault, or unlawful imprisonment.”

Jo Jorgensen (L)

Jo Jorgensen’s answers to a series of questions regarding gun regulation are summarized below. Click here to view the full questionnaire.

Jorgensen’s campaign website states she opposes additional restrictions on the process of purchasing a gun. She also opposes allowing victims of gun violence to sue firearms dealers and manufacturers.

Donald Trump (R) 

Donald Trump’s campaign website states, “The Second Amendment to our Constitution is clear. The right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed upon. Gun and magazine bans are a total failure. The right of self-defense doesn’t stop at the end of your driveway. That’s why I have a concealed carry permit and why tens of millions of Americans do too. That permit should be valid in all 50 states.”

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Help Desk preview: How and when are election results finalized?

On Tuesday, we talked about the life cycle of an election ballot in an excerpt from Ballotpedia’s 2020 Election Help Desk. We launched the newsletter two weeks ago to bring you the answers you need to vote.

Today, let’s talk about how and when election results will be certified in the 2020 election.

Election results are finalized through processes called canvassing and certification. Canvassing generally refers to the process by which state and local election officials count and confirm the validity of ballots cast in an election. Certification is the process by which state authorities formalize the outcome of an election based on the results of the canvass. Although state laws treat these two processes separately, some states, localities, and commentators use the terms interchangeably to describe the entire process of counting ballots and formalizing results.

Election result certification deadlines are set in state law. Once results are certified, the result of the election may go into effect. Certification deadlines for the 2020 election are as follows:

  • The certification deadline in six states is within one week of the election.
  • In 26 states and the District of Columbia, the certification deadline is between Nov. 10 and Nov. 30.
  • In 14 states, the certification deadline is in December.
  • Four states (Hawaii, N.H., R.I., and Tenn.) do not have deadlines for results certification laid out in state statute.

Click the link below to learn more about each stage, and click here to subscribe to the Help Desk and receive that newsletter in your inbox this afternoon.

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Explore Hawaii elections

Today’s election previews feature Hawaii and Tennessee. Here are the states we’ve highlighted so far, along with a map below summarizing where we are in the series:

Week One: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Texas, North Carolina, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Nebraska, and Oregon

Week Two: Montana, New Mexico, Iowa, South Dakota, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Idaho, Maryland, Nevada, and South Carolina

Week Three: North Dakota and West Virginia, Georgia and New York, Kentucky and Virginia, Colorado and Utah, New Jersey and Oklahoma

Week Four: Maine and Missouri, Arizona and Michigan, Kansas and Washington

On the ballot in Hawaii

At the federal level, Hawaii voters will elect four presidential electors and two U.S. Representatives. At the state level, three seats are up for election for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, 14 out of 25 seats are up in the state Senate (13 in regular elections and one in a special election), and all 51 state House districts. Ballotpedia is tracking local elections taking place in Honolulu.

Partisan data

  • In 2016, Hillary Clinton (D) defeated Donald Trump (R) 62% to 30% in Hawaii. Ronald Reagan was the last Republican to win the state in a presidential election in 1984.
  • Hawaii is one of 16 states without a Pivot County. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012 and Donald Trump (R) in 2016.
  • Both of Hawaii’s Senators—Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono—are Democrats.
  • Democrats represent both of the state’s U.S. House districts.
  • Hawaii has been under Democratic control since 2011. The state has a Democratic governor who appointed the state’s nonpartisan attorney general. 
  • Democrats have a 24-1 majority in the state Senate and a 46-5 majority in the state House. Because the governor is also a Democrat, Hawaii is one of 15 states with a Democratic trifecta. Democrats gained a trifecta when they won control of the governorship in the 2010 election.

Ballot measures

  • There are no statewide measures in Hawaii on Nov. 3.


  • Hawaii conducts its elections predominantly by mail.
  • Hawaii does not require witnesses or notaries to sign voters’ mail-in ballot return documents.  
  • Voters can return their mail-in ballots in person or by mail. Ballots must be received by 7 p.m. on Nov. 3 in order to be counted. Click here to check the status of your ballot. 
  • Hawaii law does not specify when officials can begin counting mail-in ballots, only that “counting may start before Election Day.” 
  • Hawaii does not require all voters to present identification at the polls. 
  • Early in-person voting at vote centers begins on Oct. 20 and ends on Nov. 2.
  • In Hawaii, vote centers are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Election Day. Hawaii is in its own time zone.

Learn more 

Explore Tennessee elections

On the ballot in Tennessee

At the federal level, Tennessee voters will elect 11 presidential electors, one U.S. Senator, and nine U.S. Representatives. Both chambers of the state legislature are on the ballot, with 16 out of 33 seats up in the state Senate and all 99 state House districts.

Partisan data

  • In the 2016 presidential election, Donald Trump (R) defeated Hillary Clinton (D) 61% to 35% in Tennessee. The Republican presidential nominee won Tennessee in every election between 2000 and 2016. Bill Clinton was the last Democrat to win the state in 1996.
  • Tennessee is one of 34 states that has at least one Pivot County. Pivot Counties voted for Barack Obama (D) in 2008 and 2012, then voted for Donald Trump (R) in 2016. 
  • Both of Tennessee’s U.S. Senators—Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn—are Republicans.
  • Republicans represent seven of the state’s U.S. House districts, and Democrats represent two.
  • Tennessee’s governor, attorney general, and secretary of state are all Republicans, meaning it is one of 19 states with a Republican triplex. It has held this status since 2014.
  • Republicans have a 28-5 majority in the state Senate and a 73-26 majority in the state House. Because the governor is also Republican, Tennessee is one of 21 states with a Republican trifecta. Republicans gained a trifecta after they won control of the state House in the 2008 elections.

Ballot measures

  • There are no statewide measures in Tennessee on Nov. 3.


  • In response to the coronavirus pandemic, state officials granted that “individuals with a special vulnerability to COVID-19” and “or caretakers for individuals with a special vulnerability to COVID-19” meet the existing statutory criteria for absentee/mail-in voting eligibility.
  • Tennessee does not require witnesses or notaries to sign voters’ absentee/mail-in ballots.  
  • Absentee/mail-in ballots must be returned by mail and received by Nov. 3 in order to be counted. Click here to check the status of your ballot.
  • In the 2018 general election, absentee/mail-in ballots represented 1.7% of all votes cast in Tennessee.
  • Tennessee law says that election officials can begin counting absentee/mail-in ballots on Election Day, “after the polls open and no later than four hours before closing.” 
  • Tennessee requires all voters to present photo identification at the polls. For more information about Tennessee’s voter ID requirements, click here
  • Early voting began on Oct. 14 and runs through Oct. 29.
  • In Tennessee, polling place opening times vary between counties. Counties in the Eastern time zone must close their polling places at 8 p.m. Counties in the Central time zone close their polling places at 7 p.m.

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